Today FM’s Mairead Ronan has spoken of the pressures of broadcasting and how she does not worry about the listener figures anymore as you “don’t know what’s real.”
The presenter of RTÉ’s ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ previously worked as a producer on Ray D’Arcy’s Today FM show for 11 years before landing her own afternoon show two years ago.
“I definitely learnt that from Ray D’Arcy over the years because sometimes you’re up, sometimes you're down. You just have to know in your gut. You know when you’ve had a good show and you know when that’s not the case,” she told Independent.ie.
“Everybody knows when they’ve done a good job. Whether they’re a nurse, a dentist or broadcaster or working in retail, you know when you’ve had a good day and when you’ve had a bad day.
"Once you understand that, that’s key.”
She said that radio listenership is known for being reflective of what’s going on in the world at the time, particularly in periods of crisis and sometimes having an entertainment show is an asset.
“Often it reflects what’s going on in the world, like during property crash times, people were either glued to the news or like ‘I can’t bear to listen to that, need something else’.
"So you have to stay in your lane and do what you do best. And I've stuck to that and if that’s reflected in the JNLR’s (listener figures), then great and if it’s not, I'm still doing what’s expected and asked of me and doing what I'm happy to do,” she said.
The most recent JNLR figures from last November revealed she added some 14,000 listeners to the slow, taking her audience up to 103,000 in the first year alone. The next batch of stats won't be released until this December, having been delayed due to the pandemic.
However, she admits to having some “scary” times over the past year, including when Covid hit her entire family including husband Louis, son Dara (14) daughters Eliza (5) and Bonnie (3).
At one point, she had to broadcast her show from her hotpress at her Clontarf home as she self-isolated.
“It was very, very strange and what was more strange was trying to find the light and the fun stuff during that time because we’re not a news show.
"So during a year where everyone was so news-focused, it was quite hard to find the lightness particularly in lockdown three after Christmas,” she said.
“They were very dark days; there were some very high numbers and it was very scary for businesses then. Being a broadcaster that has to bring the light was really hard and then we got sick and it hit my own family.
"I did think that time was the toughest but we’re out the other side of it now, thank God.”
Mairead, whose Today FM show airs from 12-2pm on weekdays, had to adapt to a whole new way of remote working without physically having a producer sharing the same space as her.
“The show was two years old in September. In some ways, I feel it’s flown by and other times, I feel it’s been 10 years because over a year and a half of it has been during Covid.
"So having that buzzy Today FM office, having a producer there with you on-site, that has only happened for five and a half months and the rest of the time, I've looked at her on a screen.
"We’ve communicated by typing to each other or Whatsapp voice-mailing each other during the show. It's really, really strange and I do hate the expression but that is our normal now,” she said.