'Playback' host to quit RTE on a ratings high
THE low-profile host of one of the most popular shows on Irish radio over the past decade is to step down.
The Irish Independent understands that Ruth Buchanan, the presenter of 'Playback' on RTE Radio 1, has informed her colleagues that she is retiring.
According to the latest JNLR figures, the show recently increased its audience to 320,000 listeners -- just 6,000 behind 'Today with Pat Kenny'.
"Ruth will be a difficult act to follow as she has made the show her own in many ways, with her singing and humorous links," an RTE insider said yesterday.
'Playback' is a compilation of the "best bits" of the previous week's Radio One schedule, and airs each Saturday at 9.10am.
"It has been a mainstay in the top 10 most-listened-to shows for many years and Ruth was very much a one-woman team, doing the editing and the presenting herself," the insider added. "She has managed to keep a very strong audience despite being shifted to an earlier slot, first to accommodate Eamon Dunphy and later to accommodate 'The Business'."
Most of RTE's biggest shows -- including 'Morning Ireland' and 'Liveline' -- lost listeners in the latest ratings, which were released last week.
'Playback', however, bucked the trend and its jump to 320,000 listeners cemented its place as the eighth most-popular radio show over the previous 12 months, streets ahead of any programme on 2fm, Today FM or Newstalk.
It also gained 14,000 listeners from February's figures, and is consistently amongst the most-popular Irish podcasts.
Buchanan is the wife of journalist and senator Shane Ross, and a mother of two.
The 64-year-old started working at RTE as a continuity announcer in 1968, and later went on to work on children's programmes and religious radio slots.
She was the presenter of 'Poparama' when a 12-year-old Ryan Tubridy got his first break on 2fm reviewing children's books. Buchanan is currently on holiday and could not be reached yesterday.
Her absences on 'Playback' in recent years have been filled by Fiona Kelly and Bernadette Comerford but it is understood that her full-time replacement will be Marian Richardson, producer-in-chief on 'Drivetime'.
Richardson, who produced 'Today with Pat Kenny' and Marian Finucane, used be a presenter on the children's TV show 'Bosco' in the 1970s and 1980s.
It is expected that she will take up presenting 'Playback' later this year.