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Did RTE splash out €428k to capture Colm and Jim-Jim?

FORMER Strawberry Alarm Clock duo Colm Hayes and Jim-Jim Nugent are believed to have been lured from commercial radio by State broadcaster RTE for combined fees of close to half a million euro.

Presenter Colm Hayes was the only newcomer to the top 10 best-paid list of TV and radio stars in 2009.

The breakfast show front man earned €213,954 that year after joining the station with his comedy partner Jim-Jim in 2007.

The pair also fronted a RTE Two TV programme Colm and Jim-Jim's Home Run.

But Colm said that this figure was taken out of context and did not reflect what he is earning now.

"That reflects a figure that I was enticed out of commercial radio for," he said.

"Then the recession hit and there were cutbacks and I have had two contracts since and taken a significant pay decrease in each."

He said that it has been made clear to them that when the new contracts are offered, there would be a 30pc cut.

"That's the reality of where we are now and I'm delighted to play my part," he added.

However, Jim-Jim Nugent has so far stayed quiet on the issue and chose not to comment on the figures when contacted by the Herald.

He left the show suddenly to return to his slot on Dublin station FM104.

If he was paid close to the same rate as Colm Hayes, they would have collected a whopping €427,908 between them.

RTE poached the pair from Dublin's FM104 to see if the could replicate their Strawberry Alarm Clock success on the ailing station.

However, JNLR figures showed that the pair were losing the breakfast wars when up against Today FM's Ian Dempsey, and losing thousands of listeners.

After Gerry Ryan died, Hayes teamed up with Lucy Kennedy for a temporary replacement programme. He now hosts a programme after Ryan Tubridy's slot between 9 and 11am.

Celebrity agent Noel Kelly, who represents the majority of those on the top paid list, defended the salaries and said that they were "completely blown out of proportion".

"You forget that you have to take 51pc tax off, PRSI, PAYE and then health insurance, which gets more expensive as you get older," he said.

"And then, of course, there's no guarantee of job security.

"This idea of them living in this ivory tower on huge wages is simply not true.

"When you look at a footballer's career, they only get a certain amount of time and there's no certainty in it, and it's the same in the media."