Plucky challenger Newstalk 106 has gone national and is taking the fight for listeners to the radio Goliath of RTE. Damian Corless asks: will there be blood on the studio floor?
Four months ago the Dublin station Newstalk 106 was awarded a licence to challenge RTE Radio 1 for listeners almost nationwide. In terms of available resources, it was David throwing down the gauntlet to Goliath. Talk radio does not come cheap and at the time investors had ploughed ?14m into Newstalk for no return. The State broadcaster, in stark contrast, has coffers filled by big advertising revenues and the licence fee.
But the Biblical David proved a resourceful foe, and yesterday Newstalk showed its mettle by launching its expanded service three days ahead of schedule and on a substantially wider scale than anticipated. The quasi-national licence it got last May envisaged that the station would reach 80% of the population. However, Newstalk surpassed itself, and this week signed a ten-year fully national licence in recognition of achieving 92% coverage.