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Of course I miss my old colleagues, but I never gave a toss about the prestige of RTE


A younger Kenny at RTE

A younger Kenny at RTE

A younger Kenny at RTE

IT was one of the most seismic shifts in Irish broadcasting.

A bombshell that put Newstalk on the map and provided a career boost for those left behind in the national broadcaster.

But broadcaster Pat Kenny has said the only thing he misses about RTE is the people.

In an interview to mark a new year, the 65-year-old said he has no regrets about leaving RTE for the commercial sector, but admitted he pines for old friends in Montrose.

"You don't miss an organisation, what you miss are the people," he said. "Yes, I miss my friends in RTE – the people in make-up I would see once or twice a week, the wardrobe staff. Colleagues in the radio building, people in Prime Time. Going for a coffee with Larry Masterson who produced the Late Late Show.


"There are hundreds of people I enjoyed working with in RTE who I no longer see, but it's the same for anyone who changes employers."

However, the former Late Late Show host said he is sure he made the right decision to walk out on RTE after 41 years.

"I don't regret the move, I'm not sad about it. It's turned out to be fun. The private sector was always something I wondered about, and I have to say I'm utterly pleased with what I've found," he said.

He also refuted suggestions that he sometimes sounds like he misses being on the "Air Force One" of Irish radio, as one critic suggested.

"Anyone who writes that misunderstands what I do. I would never give a toss about the prestige of being on RTE," he said. "I didn't work for them, they had a halo around their neck as the national broadcaster. My work was deemed good enough for RTE and now Newstalk, who made me an offer which at the stage I am at in my career looked like a good adventure. I'm glad I went on it."

Complimenting his Newstalk production team, he said the quality of his new morning show more than matched its RTE rival.

"Of course you can pick any individual programme we do and say there's a deficit here or a deficit there. Just like you can tune into Sean O'Rourke some days and think he could do with something here or there. It's something you work at," he said.

But to be working this hard at all, switching jobs and beginning again at 65 when most people are retiring, would leave many scratching their heads.

"Some people like to play golf or do carpentry in a little shed out the back of their house, but with me this is what I like doing. I don't really want to stop," said Kenny.

Having spent the past three months concentrating on getting his Newstalk show off the ground, he said he is now ready to return to TV And new station UTV Ireland is said to be keen to sign him up.

But RTE director general Noel Curran has said the door is still open for him at RTE.

But Kenny is in no rush.

"I don't miss TV much, probably because I did so much of it over the years. I did light entertainment, I did serious factual stuff," he said. "The only thing I haven't done is agricultural programmes."

If he did return, what sort of TV programmes would he like to do?

"I simply don't know. I certainly wouldn't go back and recreate The Frontline. It was an excellent programme, but I want to move forward all the time," he said.

"I'd love to say I had a brilliant idea to create and market all over the globe, but I simply haven't got that far yet.

"I have an open mind about telly – if the right show comes along and it's something I could do well, I'm happy to talk to programme-makers."

Back to radio, this month sees the release of the latest JNLR figures, with analysts trying to work out if the listening public has indeed "moved the dial" from RTE to Newstalk.

But the busy dad said the numbers that matter will not be available until late in the year.


"There's no pressure on numbers," he said. "Anecdotally, we know we're doing well, but we can't quantify it because the real figures will not be known until we've completed a full year, measuring up to the end of 2014. I'm confident that all the signs are good."

After a momentous few months in which he made one of the biggest decisions of his career, Kenny did concede that he does have one sort of regret.

"I wish I'd gone to the reunion show The Blades did over Christmas at the Olympia. I used to play them so much as a young DJ in RTE," he said.

"The funny thing is that there I was at my desk in Marconi House before Christmas when Paul Cleary, their lead singer, walked in doing promo.

"It was great to meet an old friend in Newstalk. We chatted and chatted. There we were, both doing what we used to do in RTE, but in a different station."