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RTE's top radio stars are told to stagger their summer holidays

IT has become a running joke in some circles, but the annual summer exodus of RTE's top radio presenters could be coming to an end.

Ryan Tubridy will join Pat Kenny on summer leave from Radio One from today, but the station's stars are now being encouraged to stagger their summer leave to ensure that some household names remain on the schedule.

"It has been a long time coming but the days when the big hitters packed their bags in June and returned in September are on the way out," one Montrose insider said yesterday.

"Ana Leddy [Radio One boss] is not in favour of long summer holidays decimating the summer schedule each year and has let it be known.

"She wants holidays taken at other times and she wants the presenters to stagger their holidays over the summer months so there is some structure to the schedule."

Liveline's Joe Duffy will take two weeks this month and two weeks in August. Derek Mooney has no holiday scheduled so far, and Mr Tubridy will return at the beginning of August. Mary Wilson is also taking a short break. Pat Kenny is the only big-name presenter on the traditional big break. He is taking 12 weeks off from his radio and Late Late Show duties and will return in late August.

Because many of the biggest names are self-employed contractors, they are not paid when they are on holiday but they also don't have to limit themselves to the industry's usual six weeks.

Now, however, they are being encouraged not to take the lengthy holidays favoured by the likes of Gay Byrne and Kenny.

"We aim to facilitate all staff who want to take their leave over the summer period but whilst maintaining a strong summer schedule," an RTE spokeswoman said yesterday.

Among the lesser-known names who will be filling in over the summer are sports presenter Damien O'Reilly (Liveline) and Anton Savage (The Tubridy Show).

But the presenter who will fill for Gerry Ryan over on 2fm in August is more surprising.

Marty Whelan was dropped from presenting the breakfast show on 2fm earlier this year because of falling ratings. But the Irish Independent has learned that he will take over from Ryan from July 30 to September 3.

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