Colleagues admit that presenter's move 'a massive loss'
RTE stars have admitted the defection of Pat Kenny to rivals Newstalk is a "major loss" for the national broadcaster.
Word of his sudden departure – made in the wake of a breakdown in contract negotiations – stunned many of his colleagues, who said they had no inkling such a seismic shift was coming.
Ryan Tubridy described Mr Kenny's move to Newstalk as a "game changer" for Irish broadcasting.
"I think it's a game changer in many respects. For a long time there was this sense that RTE was the only show in town for people like Pat [but] he found an alternative.
"It's a great loss to RTE because he's one of the best journos of his generation. It's a pity for RTE but we'll get on with things."
He said the loss of Mr Kenny was going to leave "a large hole in the schedule" and he was curious to see how RTE filled it.
Mr Kenny's 'Prime Time' co-host Miriam O'Callaghan said he is an incredibly talented broadcaster and "has shown all us current affairs presenters how it is done."
Mr Kenny's 'Prime Time' co-host Claire Byrne said it would take a long time for both RTE and its audience to adjust to him not being there anymore.
"My work relationship with Pat is relatively new, but I have always thought of him as one of the best current affairs broadcasters in the country. I have learnt quite a lot from him in the last six months.
"He'll be a big loss for RTE and a big gain for Newstalk."
She said moving from the national broadcaster, his home for the last 41 years, to commercial broadcasting was a huge decision.
"I think it's a very brave thing for him to do, but it's an exciting thing for him to do at that stage of his career. Everyone who knows Pat will know how important his work is to him and this is such a big change in his life. It will have been a huge decision for him to make," said Ms Byrne.
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne said Mr Kenny was "embedded" in RTE and he never thought he would leave it.
"I am extremely surprised, but perhaps it has been coming for some time.
"Newstalk will suit him, but they must have offered him big money. Denis O'Brien must be making it worth his while to leave RTE. The market has changed hugely in recent years. I hope he's happy."
Dave Fanning, a longtime friend of Mr Kenny, said he believed he was making the right decision and it was a good time in his life to make the change.
"He was the best RTE had and he'll do Newstalk proud."
Aine Lawlor described the defection as "a huge loss".
By Breda Heffernan, John Meagher and Liam Collins