Newstalk defection brings end to a 41-year marriage between Pat Kenny and RTÉ
Exit comes after end of ‘The Frontline’, Tweetgate and public statements on pay
In any case, Kenny’s move to a similar slot on the Newstalk mid-morning schedule will prove one way or another how much of his listenership of 328,000 was down to loyalty to him, and how much of it reflected the strength of Radio 1 as a brand.
Yesterday, Kenny told his new Newstalk colleague Chris Donoghue that he hoped he would “persuade people to move down the dial”.
The simple answer is that some will, some won’t.
‘Boost’ to Newstalk
Alan Cox, chief executive of Core Media, the largest buyer of advertising in Ireland, believes the appointment “will get those listeners who have ignored Newstalk to sample the station” and that Kenny’s presence will boost the rest of the station’s schedule.
The breakfast slot has lost some ground over the past year and a Newstalk schedule announcement pencilled in for September may well announce the return to that programme of Ivan Yates after a bankruptcy sojourn to the UK. Between them, Yates and Kenny should be able to lift the Communicorp-owned station off its 8.2 per cent market share in Dublin and its sub-5 per cent national share of listening, where it has hovered unthreateningly for some time.
“It is a fantastic move for Newstalk and should be fantastic for Pat Kenny,” says Lisa Ní Choisdealbha, executive director of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland group, which lobbies on behalf of the non-RTÉ radio sector, including Communicorp stations. “I would hope that people will move with him. Listeners tend to have one or two stations that they like, but there will be people who will tune in just to hear what he sounds like on another channel.”
Kenny (65) says he has “no immediate plans for TV” but would hope “to return to your screens in some capacity in the not too distant future”.
David McRedmond, chief executive of TV3, says the station – shortly due to unveil “one or two surprises” in its autumn schedule – hasn’t spoken to Kenny, but he seems open to a Kenny-Ballymount relationship. “Pat is a great broadcaster and my colleagues and I have great respect for him,” he says.
Given that Communicorp is owned by Denis O’Brien, who also holds the largest stake in Independent News & Media, a column in the Irish or Sunday Independent seems another possibility.
Kenny may not be loved in kitchens nationwide in the same way as Gay Byrne, Anne Doyle or even Joe Duffy, but you don’t present the Late Late Show for a decade only to find yourself bereft of opportunities for nixers.
The Kenny-Montrose divorce is not without its upside for RTÉ, if only because it immediately takes more than half a million off its operating costs at a time when the Government is sen- ding in NewERA consultants to identify further “efficiencies” to the tune of €15 million.
Still, the station will probably have to be nice to Tubridy for a while.