ALMOST all of Ireland's top radio shows lost listeners over the summer, as the stations reeled from one of the most tumultuous periods Irish radio has ever known.
The falls, which affected virtually all radio's top names save a few exceptions like Marian Finucane and Matt Cooper, were revealed in the Joint National Listenership Survey (JNLR).
The survey covers the 12 months from October 2009 to last September, and is compared against the 12-month period to June 2010.
RTE's flagship shows were the worst affected as the station struggled to find its groove following the death of 2fm star Gerry Ryan.
Ryan's former 2fm slot shed 24,000 listeners in the latest period, bringing its audience down to 262,000, as the stand-in 'Colm and Lucy Show' failed to strike a chord.
The national broadcaster has since installed 'Late Late Show' king Ryan Tubridy into Ryan's slot -- which once commanded an audience of over 300,000.
While Tubridy's arrival in late August came too late to have a meaningful impact on yesterday's figures, the station has high hopes for a recovery later in the year.
Tubridy's former slot on Radio One also struggled over the summer, losing 21,000 of its listeners in a period that includes a July/August stand-in from Kathryn Thomas.
Yesterday's figures also show another fall in 2fm's 'Colm and Jim Jim' breakfast show which dropped 4,000 listeners and has been replaced by a Hector O hEochagain-fronted show.
Beyond the musical chairs, several other RTE shows also suffered hits over the summer, with 'Morning Ireland' down 5,000, 'Liveline' down 10,000 and 'Drivetime' down 8,000.
But RTE radio boss Claire Duignan last night insisted her stations were still performing strongly, with 19 of the 20 most popular radio shows hailing from the RTE stable.
RTE was also home to some of the biggest gains, with Marian Finucane the biggest winner, while Radio 1's 'News at One' also posted gains.
"I'm absolutely delighted and stunned with these figures," Ms Finucane said last night. "When I moved to weekends we really believed there was an audience there but it was a bit of a risk. The risk seems to have paid off."
Elsewhere, Newstalk boss Frank Cronin said his station had put in a "very strong" performance even though the impact of major schedule changes in September and October won't be seen for a few months.
Sister station Today FM suffered a marginal fall in its overall listenership over the summer but recorded gains in the key 20-44 age group, where it now has four of the top five shows.
The latest figures also saw some of radio's newer stations advance, with all four 'super-regional' youth stations -- Beat, Spin South West, i102-104 and i105-107 -- recording gains in overall audiences.
Multi-city player 4fm put in a static performance overall, but station boss Jim Miley said a recent schedule reshuffle would push up audiences.
Meanwhile, local stations continued to enjoy massive popularity, led by Donegal's Highland Radio with a 63.4pc market share and Radio Kerry whose market share is 56.3pc.