Kenny says decision to leave RTÉ about finding a new challenge
Veteran broadcaster will begin his new show on September 2nd
Pat Kenny hosting RTÉ’s Late Late Show. The broadcaster is understood to have been offered deals of roughly similar monetary value by RTÉ and Newstalk. Photograph: Alan Betson
Broadcaster Pat Kenny said yesterday his decision to move from RTÉ to commercial radio station Newstalk was “not about money” but enacting “fundamental change” in his life and career.
Kenny is understood to have been offered deals of roughly similar monetary value by RTÉ and Newstalk, a station owned by media tycoon Denis O’Brien. Kenny, whose latest RTÉ contract expired earlier this year, had a pay deal worth €630,000 in 2011.
During his first live interview on Newstalk last night, he told George Hook that the move was designed to provide him with a fresh challenge.
“I had two offers on the table,” he said. “The money was not the overriding factor at all. RTÉ made me a very generous offer to continue – but I weighed it up, discussed it with the family and they kind of detected the enthusiasm I had for fundamental change.
“The easiest thing in the world to do would have been to stay put, everything in place, a team I’m familiar with, whose skills and talents I recognise and appreciate – and I could have just cruised along. But I am someone who likes to surprise even myself.
‘Market for talent’
“Fundamentally, I have always felt there should be a market for talent. There should be flux. People learn in one place and go on and use that experience somewhere else.
“This decision demonstrates that there is a market out there for talent. I don’t like to think that people feel they are either captive of the independent commercial sector or a captive of RTÉ – there should be flux.”
Newstalk editor Garrett Harte said the capture of one of RTÉ’s most high profile figures was a “huge milestone” for the station.
“It’s a seismic move for him but also a huge milestone for Newstalk and for independent radio. One of the foremost public service broadcasters has now decided to move into the commercial sector.”
Kenny’s new broadcasting contract commits him to a show that will run from Monday to Friday between 10am and 12.30pm, which is 30 minutes longer than the RTÉ Radio programme he hosted since the 1980s. It begins on September 2nd.
A pre-recorded “highlights of the week” show will also air on Newstalk on Saturday mornings, featuring extracts from interviews carried out over the previous five days.
At RTÉ, Kenny had been a prominent current affairs television presenter for many years as well as mid-morning radio host.
His TV programme The Frontline aired from 2009 and in January of this year he became one of the revamped Prime Time presenting team, along with Miriam O’Callaghan and Claire Byrne. Speaking to The Irish Times last night, O’Callaghan said she would “greatly miss” Kenny. “Pat is an incredibly talented broadcaster and has shown all of us current affairs presenters how it is done,” she said.
‘Depth of knowledge’
“His depth of knowledge on virtually every subject on earth combined with a logical inquiring mind makes him a superb broadcast journalist.
“On a professional level, I respect him enormously and loved my time working with him.
“On the much more important personal level, he was always a great, loyal, generous and fun colleague who I will miss greatly.”
Kenny said he did not think his style of broadcasting would have to undergo any major changes to account for the shift from public service broadcasting to commercial radio.
He did not rule out a return to television at some point and said he would be open to considering offers from anyone who wished to speak to him.