Entertainment Radio

Tuesday 14 August 2018

JNLRS: RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland sees biggest drop in listeners as weekend Sport sees biggest boost year on year

Big gains for 2FM with modest losses and gains at Newstalk and Today FM

RTÉ News' Bryan Dobson joined Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 this y ear Pic: Donall Farmer
RTÉ News' Bryan Dobson joined Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 this y ear Pic: Donall Farmer
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

RTE Radio 1 has seen the biggest losses for weekday shows since last year according to the latest Joint National Listenership Figures (JNLRs).

However, the station’s overall listenership has increased by 39,000 year on year and weekend shows have seen impressive gains since January 2017, particularly Marian Finucane on Sunday with an increase of 38,000.

While 2FM’s weekend schedule has been shaken-up, with the departure of Rick O’Shea and Will Leahy for RTE Gold, and the addition of several new names, the weekday schedule has seen a huge boost in listeners across the board for weekday shows.

Both Newstalk and Today FM have gained listeners overall with 63,000 new listeners for the former and 58,000 for the latter.

Morning Ireland team. PIC: RTE
Morning Ireland team. PIC: RTE

The biggest morning news show in the country is still RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland with an impressive 423,000 listeners.  However it has dropped 11,000 listeners since the last book in October and is down 25,000 year on year.

Sean O’Rourke has lost 20,000 listeners this year (12,000 book on book) but still has a reach of 312,000 listeners every day while Joe Duffy’s lunchtime talk show draws an audience of 373,000, up 3,000 since the last book but down 14,000 on the year.

RTE’s Sean O’Rourke
RTE’s Sean O’Rourke

Speaking about the losses at RTE Radio 1, station boss Tom McGuire said every station is down listeners across the morning.

“It might reflect the fact that more people are at work so there’s less available audience during the week,” he says.  “Our overall figures listening to Radio 1 for the year are up 39,000 so we possibly have more available audience at the weekend.

(L to R) Ray D'Arcy, Miriam O'Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy
(L to R) Ray D'Arcy, Miriam O'Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy

“Claire Byrne and RTE Sport saw huge jumps on the weekends so our overall audience is stable.  Also, news and current affairs was not as dramatic over 2017 and 2016 with the election and centenary.”

More modest losses were seen at the station by Ryan Tubridy, Ray D’Arcy, News at One, and Drivetime.

RTE's Claire Byrne
RTE's Claire Byrne

Tubridy’s audience of 318,000 is down 12 since the last book but just 5,000 since January 2017 while Ray D’Arcy’s afternoon show is down 3,000 since the last book and 6,000 year on year to reach 207,000 listeners.

The News at One, which this month sees Clare Byrne join Aine Lawlor to present, is up 2,000 listeners book on book but down 5,000 year on year.

George Hook. Photo: Tony Gavin
George Hook. Photo: Tony Gavin

Drivetime has lost 9,000 book on book and 11,000 since last year to reach 227,000.

Weekends on RTE Radio 1 are strong, however.  On Saturdays Marian Finucane reaches an impressive audience of 359,000, up 9,000 since October, although down 13,000 year on year, while the The Business show with Richard Curran reaches an audience of 314,000.

Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy
Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy

Clare Byrne’s listenership of 238,000 is up 22,000 since last year although Clare is moving to News at One while Cormac Ó hEadhra will take over her lunchtime slot on Saturdays from 1-2pm.

On Sundays Marian Finucane has a listenership of 346,000, up 30,000 since the last book, and 38,000 year on year while Miriam  O’Callaghan has also seen an increase of 21,000 since the last book and 14,000 year on year to reach an audience of 259,000.

Al Porter has resigned from Today FM
Al Porter has resigned from Today FM

Sport on Saturdays and Sundays on RTE Radio 1 have increased by 11,000 and 18,000 respectively book on book but have seen an impressive increase of 49,000 and 51,000 year on year to 221,00 and 224,000.  Radio 1's exclusive GAA coverage, which began last summer, have clearly made an impact.

Over at Newstalk, a series of schedule changes have seen Dr Ciara Kelly’s Lunchtime Live replacing George Hook’s show and Sarah McInerney and Chris Donoghue’s Newstalk Drive replaced by Ivan Yates’ The Hard Shoulder.

The Hard Shoulder is pulling 139,000 listeners, up 4,000 book on book.  Yates took over the slot in September.  Year on year the slot has gained 9,000.

Today FM presenters Dermot and Dave, who featured heavily at the PPI Radio Awards
Today FM presenters Dermot and Dave, who featured heavily at the PPI Radio Awards
The Breakfast Republic crew on 2FM - Keith Walsh, Jennifer Zamparelli, Bernard O'Shea. Audiences for earlymorning weekday shows such as ‘Breakfast Republic’ all increased.
The Breakfast Republic crew on 2FM - Keith Walsh, Jennifer Zamparelli, Bernard O'Shea. Audiences for earlymorning weekday shows such as ‘Breakfast Republic’ all increased.

Lunchtime Live with Dr Ciara Kelly has a reach of 99,000, down 3,000 book on book but the slot, which was previously hosted by George Hook, is up 4,000 year on year.

Newstalk Breakfast, presented by Paul Williams, Shane Coleman, and Alan Quinlan is consistent at 119,000, down 2,000 book on book and just 3,000 year on year.

The Pat Kenny Show has an audience of 143,000, down 7,000 since the last book and down 4,000 year on year.  It's very good news for Sean Moncrief in the afternoon who now has an audience of 82,000, up 3,000 since the last book and leaping 17,000 since last year. 

Off the Ball has had a good year, reaching it's highest listenership ever of 55,000, an increase of 2000 book on book and 7,000 year on year.

“We are very pleased with Newstalk’s performance, as outlined in today’s JNLR figures, which shows that Newstalk’s weekly reach has risen to 754,000, an all-time high for the station representing an increase of 63,000 listeners across the last year," says Newstalk's Chris Doyle. 

"Off The Ball has also achieved a record high of 55,000 listeners while we also saw increases for Ivan Yates’ The Hard Shoulder and Moncrieff.”

Matt Cooper’s The Last Word, on Today FM, meanwhile, reaches a similar audience to Yates on Newstalk.  It stands at 134,000, up 2,000 year on year.

Also on Today FM, Ian Dempsey’s Breakfast Show, the biggest on independent radio, reaches an audience of 160,000, down 9,000 on the last book, and 7,000 year on year.

Dermot & Dave reach 161,000, down 6,000 on the last book.  They took over the mid morning slot in early 2017.

Al Porter’s old slot, taken over by Muireann O’Connell in November, is reaching an audience of 98,000.  Porter, who had 118,000 listeners in the last book after seven months in the slot, stepped down following allegations of inappropriate behaviour.  Muireann stepped in and was made permanent last month. 

However, her new show was cut by half an hour, which was added to Fergal D’Arcy’s show in the afternoon. D'Arcy has gained 5,000 listeners in the past three months and reaches an audience of 102,000.

Louise Duffy has gained 25,000 listeners for her Lost in Music show in the evenings while Alison Curtis has added 10,000 new listeners between her two Weekend Breakfast shows which reach 137,000 on Saturdays and 72,000 on Sundays.

It’s good news for 2FM for the fifth book in a row as all weekday shows saw gains year on year.

Breakfast Republic, fronted by Jennifer Zamparelli (currently on maternity leave), Dancing with the Stars contestant Bernard O’Shea, and Keith Walsh has an audience of 186,000, down 3,000 since October but up 32,000 year on year.

Nicky Byrne and Jenny Greene have gained 19,000 listeners this year to reach 150,000 (down just 1,000 since the last book), while Tracy Clifford and Eoghan McDermott have seen gains of 20,000 and 24,000 respectively year on year for their late afternoon/early evening shows.

Clifford currently has 133,00 listeners, up 6,000 since October, while McDermott is up 7,000 on the last book to reach 134,000.

2FM boss Dan Healy says the increases are “pretty satisfying”  and adds that the station is “hoovering up” listeners in the 15-34 demographic thanks to their change in music and presenters.

He jokingly describes Today FM as “the enemy” and says he strives on a daily basis to compete with them.

“Today FM is a big brand so I come in to work and say, ‘What do we do today to beat Today FM?’  It’s good to have a big one next door so you can look across and say, ‘How do we do better?’ and that’s helped us.

“In terms of reach we have 13,000 listeners on them.  We’ve gained 59,000 in the last year.”

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