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'If Tubridy wants to make a go of 2fm, he needs to stop taking so many holidays'

RAY D'Arcy is not a man to mince his words.

Over the years the Today FM presenter has earned himself a reputation for his frank and direct manner.

He's slagged off Enda Kenny, describing our Taoiseach as looking like 'a boiled potato that's sat in the fridge for four days', as well as hitting out at RTE and The Late Late Show.

But it is this very candid approach to broadcasting that may explain why The Ray D'Arcy Show has pulled so far ahead in the radio ratings.

His rivals on 2fm, without the star attraction of the late Gerry Ryan, lag behind.

"Gerry's shoes were big shoes to fill," dad-of-two Ray told the Herald. "For a long time everyone knew he was keeping 2fm afloat. So when he died there was a huge gap in the schedule. And RTE hasn't managed to fill that yet.

"People underestimate how long it takes to settle in to radio; to find a groove. To think that Ryan Tubridy would come in, take over Gerry's slot in the schedule and it would be as it was before was a mistake.


"It shows a lack of understanding of how radio works from a group of people who work in radio."

According to the most recent listenership figures, The Ray D'Arcy Show has 225,000 listeners everyday, while over at 2fm Ryan Tubridy is only managing to pull in 175,000.

Ray (48) has one bit of advice for Tubridy to help build the listenership of his morning show.

"If Ryan wants to make a go of 2fm," the presenter said, "he needs to stop taking so many holidays. He's taken 12 weeks off this year."

As Ray knows, building up a radio audience takes patience and dedication.

"It takes time to find your audience and for people to know you and like you."

Despite all this, Ray thinks people are unduly harsh on Tubs.

"He's not losing listeners," Ray states. "Gerry Ryan's fans just stopped listening to the radio when he died. Ryan has to find new listeners.

"He hasn't lost any Ryan Tubridy listeners, he just didn't inherit all of Gerry's. I think people are being unfair when they say he haemorrhages listeners. He doesn't, he still has to find his own."

Today FM has suffered a blow of their own now that Ray Foley is moving across to 98FM.

Asked how he was taking the news of Foley's departure, D'Arcy said that while Ray and himself had limited interaction around the station he would miss him and wished the Take Me Out host well.

"People have this notion that when you work together in the same radio station that you all have drinks together, and you go to each other's children's birthday parties. But each radio show is like an independent republic -- the interaction is quite limited between shows.

"But any upset in a schedule is a loss because you have to fill it. I wish him well. I think he wanted to do breakfast radio and he would have been waiting a long time to get an opportunity like that here. If he wants to do breakfast radio then he's got his opportunity now."

Although Ray had received offers to do other shows he says he's happy with his lot. "I'm very happy where I am. I've been offered other positions but it's never felt right, or the timing wasn't right. We're an independent station and we're allowed to do and say stuff that you might not be allowed to do or say on the State broadcaster.

"I can be very outspoken about things, very opinionated about things. Here, I don't have to worry about getting a rap on the knuckles or people complaining about their licence fee. If someone doesn't like what they hear, we can tell them to switch station but if you're the State broadcaster, you can't really do that. Because they can say -- well our licence fees are going into paying your wages so I'm entitled to my opinion."

Ray knows all about opinions. He famously announced he would leave the country if Enda Kenny became Taoiseach.

Of course Mr Kenny went on to take the top job in 2011 and Ray at the time said he was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

He said he was particularly impressed with how the Taoiseach dealt with the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church, but still finds that Mr Kenny and other politicians fail when it comes to taking responsibility for mistakes that are made in the management of the country.

"I've said a lot about Enda in the past. I think the way he handled the Cloyne report was ballsy and I always say he looks like a leader.

"If you were casting an American president that doesn't have to speak, you would cast Enda. He has the hair and he wears a suit well. But my problem with him and with other politicians is that they never accept responsibility, the buck never stops with them.

"We have so many quangos and organisations all doing the same thing. Everyone seems to think that the more of them we have, the better, but all it reveals is a complete lack of organisation."

And there is one issue that Ray feels particularly strongly about; the Taoiseach's lack of action when it comes to mental health and suicide.

"When Enda was on the leaders debate during the General Election, he said mental health and suicide were issues he wanted to address but has he done anything?

"I'd love to get a huge truck and put that clip on loop outside Government buildings until he does something real about it."