Listeners increasingly tuning out of RTÉ’s weekend radio shows

RTÉ Radio 1 remains dominant station, broadcasting 17 of 20 top programmes

Over the past 12 months, Marian Finucane has shed 73,000 listeners on a Sunday, while her Saturday audience has fallen by 27,000 listeners. Photograph: Eric Luke

Over the past 12 months, Marian Finucane has shed 73,000 listeners on a Sunday, while her Saturday audience has fallen by 27,000 listeners. Photograph: Eric Luke


RTÉ’s weekend radio audiences continue to fall, with listeners deserting Marian Finucane, the latest Joint National Listenership Research survey shows.

Over the past 12 months, Finucane has shed 73,000 listeners on a Sunday, when she now attracts an audience of 291,000, while her Saturday audience has fallen by 27,000 listeners to 358,000. RTÉ Radio 1 also suffered declines in the listenership of weekend shows The Business , Playback and Miriam Meets .

Meanwhile, the broadcaster has announced the appointment of long-standing commercial radio executive, Dan Healy, as its new head of 2fm, replacing John McMahon.

Clare Duignan, managing director of RTÉ Radio, said 2fm was “a core priority for RTÉ” and that it was “vital” that RTÉ met the needs of younger listeners. “This appointment is a significant statement of confidence in the future of 2fm,” she said.

Tubridy listenership
The station’s commercial performance has been under pressure in recent years, largely as a result of the failure of presenter Ryan Tubridy to match the audience garnered by the late Gerry Ryan. Tubridy’s listenership has fallen 13,000 over the past year to 159,000, the figures for April 2012 to March 2013 show.

Mr Healy, who joins RTÉ from Independent Radio Sales and is a former chief executive of both Newstalk and 98FM, described his new role as “a wonderful and challenging opportunity” to take on.

“It’s a well-worn phrase in radio circles, but it’s also true that RTÉ 2fm is a sleeping giant.” However, he acknowledged there were “big commercial challenges ahead for the station”.

Ms Duignan said recent listenership figures at 2fm were “encouraging” and that Tubridy’s audience, which is down 1,000 since the previous survey three months ago, was “stable and loyal, and there to be grown”.

Today FM highlighted its performance in its target 20-44-year-old age segment, where it has a market share of 9.4 per cent compared to 7.2 per cent at 2fm.

Newstalk celebrated the rising popularity of the Sean Moncrieff show, which broke the 100,000 benchmark to reach 104,000. Newstalk’s most popular show remains The Right Hook , with a listenership of 132,000, up 2,000 year-on-year. Newstalk Breakfast ’s audience has slipped 17,000 year-on-year to 121,000, while evening sports show Off the Ball has a listenership of 43,000, down 5,000 year-on-year.

John Purcell, chief executive of Carlow and Kilkenny station KCLR and chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland group, said listeners were tuning out of RTÉ and turning on commercial radio. The combined market share of independent radio stations is 67.6 per cent, while RTÉ has a 32.4 per cent share.

Mr Purcell said he hoped the public’s radio preferences were reflected in the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s review of public service media funding. “We hope . . . that the Minister takes note and acts to ensure that all radio broadcasters, including RTÉ, have access to the new public broadcasting charge.”

Radio 1 dominant
In terms of the most-listened-to shows, however, RTÉ Radio 1 remains dominant, broadcasting 17 of the 20 top programmes. The first of the three exceptions is Tubridy rival Ray D’Arcy on Today FM. D’Arcy’s show is the 12th most listened to nationally,with an audience of 243,000 – unchanged on the previous survey but down 6,000 listeners year-on-year.

The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show , also on Today FM, is the 19th most listened to show, with an audience of 175,000, down 8,000, while Tubridy’s 2fm show rounds out the top 20.

RTÉ Radio 1 ’s Morning Ireland maintained the number one spot, with 443,000 listeners, while Liveline with Joe Duffy has 424,000.

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