O’Rourke and Kenny go head-to-head with new shows

Presenters open debut programmes with tributes to Seamus Heaney

This morning’s radio programmes, Today with Sean O’Rourke and The Pat Kenny Show, are the first test of Newstalk’s strategy of poaching one of RTÉ’s big stars in a bid to get RTÉ Radio One listeners to “move that dial”. Photographs: Frank Miller/The Irish Times; Jason Clarke Photography

This morning’s radio programmes, Today with Sean O’Rourke and The Pat Kenny Show, are the first test of Newstalk’s strategy of poaching one of RTÉ’s big stars in a bid to get RTÉ Radio One listeners to “move that dial”. Photographs: Frank Miller/The Irish Times; Jason Clarke Photography

Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 11:44

lThe much anticipated battle of the Irish airwaves has started with RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke and Newstalk’s Pat Kenny going head-to-head.

This morning’s programmes, Today with Sean O’Rourke and The Pat Kenny Show, are the first test of Newstalk’s strategy of poaching one of RTÉ’s big stars in a bid to get RTÉ Radio One listeners to “move that dial”.

Both shows opened with a piece on Seamus Heaney, whose funeral takes place in Dublin today.

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Bono spoke to Kenny from Ghana and recited a poem by  Heaney. Edna O’Brien spoke to O’Rourke.

The O’Rourke programme then moved on to an interview with Hans Blix about possible American intervention in Syria.

Over on Newstalk, Kenny and Bono moved on to lighter matters and discussed his wife’s clothing line and his daughter’s film career.

O’Rourke also interviewed Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt, who attended yesterday’s Dublin v Kerry clash. Despite close questioning from O’Rourke, Schmidt refused to be drawn on his thinking about the Irish captaincy.

Kenny then interviewed former Newstalk anchor and minister Ivan Yates about his financial difficulties. Yates said he had used his Newstalk earnings and savings to pay back €800,000.

Yates also detailed how he has recently been discharged as a bankrupt under the British bankruptcy process. Yates spoke of his poor strategic decision to double the size of Celtic Bookmakers, which caused the company to go bust.

Yates also said he wished he was dead on two occasions while living abroad and also expressed his shock that AIB seemed to target himself and his wife in particular for bankruptcy proceedings.

Newstalk has spent hundreds of thousands of euro promoting Kenny. RTÉ, by its own admission, does not have the money or the inclination to mount a similar advertising campaign. The Pat Kenny Show will run from 10am to 12.30pm, half-hour longer than Today with Sean O’Rourke.

RTÉ’s head of radio Jim Jennings said the public interest surrounding both presenters would be “great for radio no matter what happens”.

“We are all fishing in the same pond as far as advertising is concerned. The best thing is that all boats will rise, but who knows.”

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