Wednesday 17 January 2018

Kenny tells of Prime Time 'madness' and why RTE just doesn't listen

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Broadcaster Pat Kenny believes RTE needs to stop taking talent for granted if it wants to hold on to it.

In July last year, Kenny confounded Irish media when he announced his decision to leave the station after 41 years and join Newstalk.

"It's probably true that, for a big organisation, RTE don't have many people listening and minding people," he said.

"They presume that if they pay you well, you'll do your job and that's not an unreasonable view to take.

"In the old days when RTE was the only show in town, they didn't have to worry about people defecting but that is a reality for them now."

Having been a part of the "RTE furniture" for decades, Kenny grew increasingly frustrated following the broadcaster's handling of the infamous presidential debate on The Frontline in 2011 and his subsequent role on Prime Time.

"The Frontline was a turning point and I told RTE that," Kenny told the Irish Independent.

"I knew I wasn't enjoying Prime Time - it was unpredictable, often I would come back in to RTE after a day working in the radio building to interview a Junior Minister for five minutes, which seemed like madness.

"A 'radio only' contract with RTE was not an option; when the Newstalk offer came in, it excited me so I went for it.

"I could have stayed in RTE but I would have been afflicted by the eternal 'what if'."

Kenny says that while he misses the people he worked alongside, he doesn't miss the institution itself.

Since he began The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, Kenny's JNLR ratings have increased book on book. Despite this, he insists the programme is still a work in progress.

"It was a revolution when I first moved, now we are focusing on the evolution of the show. It's a two-year project so we're taking it step by step," he said.

Earlier this month, Kenny was unveiled as one of the new faces of UTV Ireland - another shock to the Irish film and TV industry.

He will front an hour-long weekly show, which will be filmed in front of a live audience and go out before 10pm.

"I hope RTE and TV3 are worried about the competition - I wouldn't be doing my job properly if they weren't," said Kenny.

Comparisons with The Late Late Show are inevitable, but Kenny insists this show will be different in tone and feel.

"It won't be a 42-week-long run like The Late Late Show. I have ideas but everything is still being decided, the only definite is that it will be filmed in front of a live studio audience."

Irish Independent

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