Big interviews, more GAA and a new version of the old theme as O’Rourke’s reign begins
RTÉ presenter will go head-to-head with Newstalk's Pat Kenny from Monday
Today with Seán O’Rourke will primarily be a news and current affairs programme with heavyweight interviewees. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Today with Seán O’Rourke will feature a souped-up arrangement of the old Today with Pat Kenny theme tune when it makes its debut on Monday, but otherwise listeners can expect a gentle evolution of the programme rather than a big break from the format that prevailed in the Kenny era.
It would be “arrogant” of him to make sweeping changes from day one, O’Rourke said at the launch of Radio 1’s new season, though he agreed with RTÉ Radio’s acting managing director Jim Jennings that there would “probably be more GAA”.
Valerie Cox, Brian O’Connell, Paddy O’Gorman and Marie-Louise O’Donnell will continue to contribute, but Today with Seán O’Rourke will primarily be a news and current affairs programme with heavyweight interviewees.
A post-budget phone-in with the Minister for Finance has been pencilled in already.
RTÉ Radio 1 has a 23 per cent share of the national radio market and remains the best place for government ministers to get their message across. “It doesn’t surprise me that the Minister wants to go where, as of now, there’s the biggest audience,” O’Rourke said.
After three weeks of preparation, “initial trepidation has given way to a feeling of great anticipation and excitement”, he said, comparing the feeling to the build-up to a general election. As for the guest list for his first show, he was not letting anything slip. In any case, “it won’t be finalised probably until five to 10 on Monday morning.”
So how long does he want to stay in the mid-morning hot-seat? “I think initially it would be for three years. Sorry, I’m thinking out loud there and probably getting ahead of things.”
His vagueness is because there is no formal contract. “I haven’t signed anything yet. This is all happening on the basis of a handshake between myself and Jim Jennings in a hurried meeting.”
In the fight to retain listeners and add new ones, O’Rourke is taking nothing for granted, but the rivalry between him and Kenny will be cordial, he insists. “We’ve already had a friendly exchange of texts.”