RTÉ drafted succession plan before Kenny left
Head of Radio 1 ‘more disappointed than shocked’ by presenter’s move to Newstalk
Broadcaster Pat Kenny’s move to to Newstalk has been accompanied by a promotional campaign imploring listeners to “Move the dial”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Tom McGuire said he was “more disappointed than shocked” about Mr Kenny’s departure.
“As managers we have responsibility for succession planning looking across the schedule. The best broadcasters in the country are on the RTÉ campus.
“We did have an inclination. Pat’s contract was up for renewal. We knew there was always a possibility that it might not be renewed,” he said.
“Everybody has a right to move on. We’ve all made those choices. We made every effort. We put a very good package and proposal together, but we weren’t able to match the money. That’s what it came down to in the end. There was a better offer on the table.”
‘A natural choice’
In an interview with The Irish Times, he said Seán O’Rourke was a natural choice as successor because News at One, which he presented, delivered 320,000 to 330,000 listeners a day.
“He was such an easy fit. I listened to him going through it [rehearsals]. I sat with him through the last week. He is someone who wants to get this right and put a smile on your face when you are talking about news.”
Mr Kenny’s move to Newstalk has been accompanied by a promotional campaign that includes poster and YouTube strands using the slogan “Move the dial”.
Mr McGuire said RTÉ had anticipated a big advertising campaign from Newstalk but did not have the resources to match it.
“Our promotion for Today with Seán O’Rourke is something that is there for the long run. We don’t have the same money to do that kind of thing. We will use our creativity to promote our own. Our promotions are ongoing. It is a league more than a championship.”
He also said the contract negotiations with Mr Kenny illustrated that there was a “a new reality in Irish broadcasting, that there is a level above which we cannot go and that is what happened here.”
Mr McGuire said John Murray, who has been absent from The John Murray Show for most of this year because of illness, expects to be back by the end of the year.
He also said Marian Finucane had agreed to a longer working year as part of her contract negotiations. “We had a negotiation of a contract and Marian agreed to a longer working period through last year and this year.”
He said Ms Finucane, who broadcasts for four hours at weekends, works as long a week as anybody else in the organisation. “There is a disservice done to Marian. She is talking to that programme team from Monday on. It is also constantly changing.”