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‘It’s a kick up the arse, I’d be lying if I said I don’t get worried’ – Doireann Garrihy on falling radio figures

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Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy co-present 'The Big Night In' tomorrow on RTÉ One at 6.30pm

Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy co-present 'The Big Night In' tomorrow on RTÉ One at 6.30pm

Doireann Garrihy. Picture by Gerry Mooney

Doireann Garrihy. Picture by Gerry Mooney

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Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy co-present 'The Big Night In' tomorrow on RTÉ One at 6.30pm

RTÉ presenter Doireann Garrihy has spoken for the first time about her disappointment with the latest JNLR radio figures — which saw all 2fm’s weekday shows shed listeners.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent ahead of her Christmas TV special Big Night In tomorrow, which she co-presents with Dermot Whelan, the star gave an honest account of her feelings.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t affected and don’t get worried when things don’t go our way.”

But, she said, “having the likes of Dermot around, and the amount of people at the radio station who would say, ‘Chin up, it’s all ebb and flow’ has helped to put it in perspective. They remind me that it’s a brand new breakfast show.”

On the past two years, the star says “it has been a mad time for everyone in radio”.

Speaking about the fall in people listening to radio while working from home, she said: “I think with breakfast radio, a lot of people are falling out of bed at 8.45am and are at their desk for 9am. And we are missing them, we really are.

"We would love nothing more than for them to be back on the road, tuning into us. But look, you have to see it as a bit of a kick up the arse, to be honest,” she says, before adding: “My mother will kill me for saying that.”

She also points out that the radio show, which she co-presents with Donncha O’Callaghan and Carl Mullan, is still relatively new and will take time to grow its audience (which currently stands at 103,000 — down 23,000 on last year’s figures). 

“These things need to bed in. We are figuring it all out and will come back fighting.

"We may do a little bit of a reshuffle with certain items. We will have a look at music, go through all these things with a fine-tooth comb and make sure that we are all playing to our strengths.”

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Dermot Whelan, who co-presents tomorrow’s Christmas TV special, adds his own pragmatic perspective to the JNLR figures.

“I am nearly 20 years in radio. If JNLRs were the difference between me sleeping at night and not sleeping at night, then I’d never have continued in the gig.

“It’s no different than sport, where people can see the result of a race. That’s kind of it, but whether your ratings are good or bad, you know that you still have to turn up in front of a microphone the next day — and you need to bring your best, least-distracted self to the role. So sometimes your ratings are up, sometimes they are down — and that’s life.

"My job is so much fun, I never see it as a real job. You just keep doing it until someone says you can’t do it any more, and that’s my approach. I only control what I can control.”

The show, which he presents with Dave Moore, continues to be the biggest draw for Today FM, with a weekly listenership of 205,000, after picking up 22,000 new listeners.

Meanwhile, the pair also spoke about their excitement about their upcoming family entertainment show on RTÉ, where highlights will include singer Brian Kennedy getting pranked into attending the retirement party of a banker and super-fan.

Doireann says “we have jammed a lot into it, but I truly think it is brilliant, and working with Dermot has been an absolute dream”.

‘The Big Night In’ is on RTÉ One tomorrow at 6.30pm


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