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Poor reception for Drivetime radio in dole gloom turn-off

DRIVETIME radio shows have been the major losers in the latest listenership figures with rising unemployment taking its toll.

The audience for RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland and Drivetime and Today FM's The Last Word have all fallen -- the lengthening dole queues meaning there are fewer commuters.

Morning Ireland, which is still the most listened to radio show in the country, had 3,000 fewer listeners, while Mary Wilson's Drivetime was down 5,000.

The Last Word, presented by Matt Cooper, fell by 13,000.

Bucking the trend was The Right Hook on Newstalk, hosted by rugby pundit George Hook, which gained 9,000 listeners.

The JNLR/Ipsos MRBI figures cover the 12-month period to December 2009.

They are compared with the previous set of figures, from October 2008 to September 2009.

Recorded in the figures is a big increase in weekend listening with The Business on RTE Radio 1, presented by John Murray, breaking into the top 10 programmes.

His listenership grew 14,000 to 310,000.

An extra 14,000 were tuning into Ruth Buchanan's Playback, a round-up of the week's radio highlights, which airs on Saturday.

Eamon Keane's Lunchtime on Newstalk held its own, maintaining its 68,000 listeners.


Newstalk will also be pleased with the performances of Tom Dunne, who now has an audience of 73,000 for his morning magazine show, and Claire Byrne on Breakfast, which has 77,000 listeners.

Ian Dempsey's morning show on Today FM lost 15,000 listeners, down to 207,000, while Ray d'Arcy's programme on the same station fell by 10,000 -- it now has 236,000 listeners.

Overall, the figures saw a further consolidation of RTE Radio 1's position as the most listened to station in the country.

Once again, it accounted for the top 10 most popular shows and 18 out of the top 20.

Ryan Tubridy recorded an 11,000 increase in listeners.

This followed the 13,000 rise he achieved in the last set of figures.

In addition, Pat Kenny was up 7,000, having grown his audience by 6,000 the last time.

Marian Finucane has again increased her audience, adding 4,000 listeners to her Saturday and Sunday shows.

However, News at One, presented by Sean O'Rourke, was down by 2,000.

Joe Duffy's Liveline gained 1,000 listeners, rising to 424,000.

After previous falls, there was better news for Gerry Ryan on 2fm, gaining 2,000 listeners.

However, the increase did not stop him almost falling out of the top 10 shows. Mr Ryan's programme is now at No 10 -- 3,000 behind Playback at No 9.

"The fall in commuting has hurt us in some areas but we expect to see this reversed as the economy picks up," Today FM chief executive Willie O'Reilly said.

Clare Duignan, managing director of RTE Radio, said 2fm was battling to regain listeners. She said the early indications were that changes to evening and arts scheduling were working.

"But I am confident that with Gerry Ryan regaining listeners, and with 2fm maintaining its position as Ireland's second most-listened-to radio station, the game is on and we're in it," she said.