Ex-2FM boss drafted in to lighten up O'Rourke slot
THE former head of 2FM has been drafted in to help lighten the tone of Sean O'Rourke's new RTE Radio One show in the old Pat Kenny slot.
John McMahon has joined the mid-morning team at the station to provide a lifestyle element to the weekday show's content, as it prepares to go head-to-head with Newstalk defector Mr Kenny from next Monday.
Mr McMahon, who stepped down from his post at 2FM last May, will work alongside existing 'Today' producers Kay Sheehy, Conor Kavanagh, Donal O'Herlihy and Tara Campbell.
Galway-born Mr O'Rourke will now have an experienced team of five producers, two senior researchers, two reporters and a broadcast co-ordinator, at his disposal.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny will work with a smaller group, availing of a producer, three researchers and a technician, which were chosen in-house at Newstalk.
"John is the man who made Ryan Tubridy a star; he's a serious operator and knows how to make something work well," a source told the Irish Independent.
"The whole 'Today' team is delighted, especially the other producers because they all have strong backgrounds in news and current affairs – John can offer a softer element and he'll really pull it all together."
A source told this newspaper that the 'Today' team have gone into "overdrive" ahead of Monday, September 2, when Mr O'Rourke officially takes over 65-year-old Kenny's slot.
Mr O'Rourke, who formerly presented 'News At One', has also established himself well within the team.
"He set up his desk in their office last week and he's just been so enthusiastic about bringing on different elements to the line-up, it's very encouraging."
RTE is still nailing down the final format for the programme, with less than a week to go before it goes live and kicks off a ratings war. There is a possibility that not all segments will be signed off on before the station's radio launch this Thursday, when Jim Jennings, acting managing director of RTE Radio, will announce details of the upcoming autumn schedule.
"There have been a lot of ideas going back and forth, which is great obviously, but not everything is set in stone yet," a source said.
Mr O'Rourke and Mr Kenny's programmes will start at 10am and run Monday to Friday.
Mr Kenny's Newstalk show will be a two-and-a-half hour offering, finishing up 30 minutes later than his RTE competitor, who will run from 10am to 12 noon. Kenny hosted an informal dinner at his Dalkey home in south Dublin last week, to properly mark the end of his working relationship with his colleagues at the national broadcaster.