Monday 23 April 2018

Kenny's up by 18,000 but O'Rourke retains top spot

Pat Kenny, pictured on his first day as a presenter with Newstalk radio. Picture: Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
Pat Kenny, pictured on his first day as a presenter with Newstalk radio. Picture: Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

NEWSTALK'S Pat Kenny has picked up another 18,000 radio listeners, while at the same time his former show on RTE lost 15,000 listeners.

But RTE's flagship 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' remains the most popular mid-morning radio show with 312,000 people tuning in.

Mr Kenny, (66), in the latest Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey of radio listeners, attracted the same number of new listeners to his show for the second consecutive survey.

He jumped ship from RTE last year after more than 40 years with the state broadcaster in a five-year-deal with Newstalk reportedly worth €2m.

Yet despite the increase in listeners to 'The Pat Kenny Show' to 137,000 since the last JNLR survey was published on January 30, Mr O'Rourke still has close to three times the number of listeners.


Mr O'Rourke – the former presenter of RTE Radio 1's flagship current affairs show 'The News at One' – has 312,000 despite losing 15,000 listeners.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Kenny called the increase in listeners to his show "a significant jump".

"I'm not one who jumps up and down if they go up or down," he said.

"But I'm very pleased with the way things are going. It's reassuring, we're heading in the right direction.

"It shows the formula appeals to people."

Mr O'Rourke, who marks his eighth month on the revamped show said he's not worried about the apparent migration of his listeners to Mr Kenny's show.

"There was never any way that Newstalk wasn't going to gain listeners," he said.

"But we're doing a lot better than some people thought. You can't expect that nothing will happen when the biggest beast in the forest moves and he had a big marketing campaign behind him," he said of Newstalk's 'Move the Dial' campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny congratulated his colleagues Ivan Yates and Chris O'Donoghue for gaining another 11,000 listeners to their 'Newstalk Breakfast' show after picking up 5,000 new listeners in the January survey.

"The 'bromance' of the airwaves seems to be appealing to listeners," he said of the lively banter between the co-hosts.

RTE's Lyric fm, which celebrated its 15th anniversary on the airwaves yesterday, had further cause for celebration after sports commentator George Hamilton, who hosts the classical programme 'The Hamilton Scores', notched up 8,000 new listeners.

The most recent survey reveals other decent gains for Radio 1's 'Marian Finucane Show' on Sunday with 10,000 new listeners, as well as RTE's 'Saturday Sport' – which is up 11,000 listeners – and 7,000 new listeners for RTE 1's 'Playback'.

However, the majority of programmes at the national broadcaster lost listeners over the survey period.

Even popular stalwarts like Today FM's Ray D'Arcy, Joe Duffy on RTE Radio 1's 'Liveline' and Newstalk's George Hook all lost thousands of listeners despite making gains in previous JNLR surveys.

The survey also showed a drop of 4,000 listeners to 2FM's Ryan Tubridy show to 148,000, as well as a loss of 12,000 listeners from its former breakfast show with Hector O hEochagain. Despite making the same number of gains in the last survey, the loss of listeners is due to the host leaving the show in December and its replacement 'Breakfast Republic' not being aired until mid-February, which is not accurately reflected in the survey, according to an RTE spokesperson.

Newstalk CEO Gerard Whelan said its 'Move the Dial' campaign has not only apparently lured listeners to Newstalk as intended, the slogan has even become a popular catchphrase used by politicians and others.

Irish Independent

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