O’Rourke ‘excited’ at prospect of taking over Pat Kenny slot

Veteran broadcaster to anchor station’s main mid-morning radio show

Presenter Sean O’Rourke said he was ‘excited’ at the prospect of taking over from Pat Kenny. Photograph: Eric Luke/Irish Times

Presenter Sean O’Rourke said he was ‘excited’ at the prospect of taking over from Pat Kenny. Photograph: Eric Luke/Irish Times

Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 12:00

Veteran RTÉ broadcaster Seán O’Rourke said today he was “excited” at the prospect of taking over from Pat Kenny as presenter of the station’s mid-morning radio show.

As part of a reshuffle in the wake of Kenny’s defection to Newstalk, O’Rourke will anchor the station’s flagship current affairs programme from September 2nd, RTÉ said.

The move looks set to create an intense rivalry between two of the industry’s top presenters, whose shows will air at the same time on weekday mornings.

O’Rourke’s appointment will see him leave the News at One programme for the first time in nearly two decades having started there in 1995.

The changes will see Áine Lawlor and Richard Crowley take over the News at One slot, alternating as presenters .

Lawlor is also to become the new presenter of The Week in Politics in the wake of O’Rourke’s new posting.

O’Rourke is renowned for his presence on the national broadcaster’s radio news programme and has a reputation as a formidable interviewer, particularly of politicians.

“It’s 40 years ago next month since I began a lifelong love affair with journalism and I can honestly say I am as excited about this move as I was the first day I climbed the stairs in the Connacht Tribune in September 1973. I love radio and I love news,” O’Rourke said today.

“Not only will we break news, drive the debate and analyse the stories of the day, we’ll be getting stuck into much more than that. I hope people will come for the news and stay for the craic. Here’s to September 2nd.”

The changes will also see presenter Claire Byrne join Rachael English, Gavin Jennings and Cathal MacCoille on the Morning Ireland team.

Miriam O’Callaghan will continue to present The John Murray Show for the autumn and will also return to RTÉ One’s Prime Time in September.

Acting managing director of RTÉ Radio, Jim Jennings, said: “This is a hugely strong schedule for RTÉ Radio 1.

“Sean O’Rourke, multiple winner of PPI News Journalist of Year, is Ireland’s foremost news and current affairs presenter. Sharp, insightful and fair, Sean progresses the news agenda like no other presenter.”

“Now listeners will get the Sean they know, and much more. A massive sports fan, a keen reader, Sean will showcase the best of what listeners love about the Today show. We are intent on holding and building listeners in this key slot; with Sean O’Rourke, listeners have an easy choice to make in staying with Radio 1.”

Kenny made the surprise announcement last week in what was widely considered an industry coup for Newstalk Radio, his new employer who said he would be on air from September 2nd next.

He said he was “relishing the challenge ahead and looking forward to a new chapter”, particularly in the world of independent broadcasting.

Last night, betting on Kenny’s replacement appeared to have been suspended on Paddy PowerKenny worked with the State broadcaster for the last 41 years before joining the Denis O’Brien controlled Newstalk where he will anchor the station’s prime time slot.