RTÉ Radio 1′s 9am show sees listeners slip but audience remains higher than a year ago

Pat Kenny’s Newstalk slot sets fresh record, lifting station to its highest ever market share, while Morning Ireland surges again

RTÉ Radio 1′s key 9am weekday slot lost 4,000 listeners in the final three months of last year, but its audience remained 12,000 higher in 2023 than it was a year earlier, the latest radio listenership figures show.

The numbers are based on a 12-month rolling survey, meaning about half of the audience was listening to the slot’s former presenter Ryan Tubridy when surveyed, while the others were listening to a rotating roster of stand-ins, including Mr Tubridy’s now confirmed permanent replacement, Oliver Callan.

Gains for Pat Kenny, meanwhile, lifted Newstalk to its highest ever market share of 8 per cent, according to the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) for 2023.

The audience for news and current affairs programmes across both Radio 1 and Newstalk increased in the last few months of the year amid a number of major domestic and international news events, including the Dublin riots and the Israel-Hamas war.


On Radio 1, Morning Ireland’s audience surged 23,000 to 486,000, leaving the listenership of RTÉ's flagship radio news programme just 5,000 shy of its pandemic peak in 2020.

The station’s hour-long 9am slot now has 343,000 listeners. This is down from an audience of 347,000 in the year to the end of September 2023, but remains above the 331,000 listeners that tuned in throughout 2022.

Source: JNLR

The only other Radio 1 weekday peak-time show to slip in this survey was Ray D’Arcy, but at 186,000 his listenership was down by just 1,000.

Today with Claire Byrne was a notable gainer for Radio 1, adding 10,000 listeners to 341,000.

On the weekend, Brendan O’Connor added 7,000 listeners on Saturday to reach 342,000, while his Sunday show listenership increased by 20,000 and now equals the 343,000 audience secured by the weekday 9am slot. Miriam O’Callaghan’s Sunday with Miriam also leapt 20,000 to 292,000.

“The enduring value and relevance of public service media to people in Ireland is clear to see in these latest figures. Over 2 million adults tune into RTÉ's radio services every week, and RTÉ Radio 1 remains the only station with a weekly reach of over 1 million people,” said RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst.

“It’s especially gratifying to see how more and more young people are connecting with 2fm, a vital element in RTÉ's public service portfolio, with the service’s weekday reach up 1 per cent year-on-year.”

Radio 1′s market share edged up to 20.7 per cent, while the 2fm’s nudged lower to 6 per cent. The music-led station achieved gains on the weekend in the latest survey for Laura Fox and early afternoon duo Roz and Emma, but the audience for its weekday line-up was either flat or recorded modest slips.

Over on Newstalk, Pat Kenny set a fresh listenership record for his mid-morning show, which now pulls in 216,000 listeners, up 11,000 on the last survey and up a substantial 42,000 year-on-year.

Newstalk Breakfast, Lunchtime Live, Moncrieff and The Hard Shoulder also added to their listenership tallies, giving the Bauer Media Audio-owned station a clean sweep of weekday peak-time gains.

“We are delighted that our content is striking a chord with listeners and that so many are spending significant time with us every day,” said Newstalk managing editor Patricia Monahan.

The biggest shows on Today FM, which is also owned by Bauer, added listeners too. Dave Moore’s mid-morning show, which he previously co-presented with Dermot Whelan, now has 230,000 listeners, up 3,000 on the last survey, while the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show also added 3,000 to reach 228,000. The Last Word with Matt Cooper rose by 4,000 to 186,000.

The station’s weekend breakfast host Alison Curtis added 6,000 and 3,000 listeners on a Saturday and Sunday to reach a listenership of 198,000 and 169,000 respectively. Overall, Today FM maintained its market share of 9.7 per cent.

The survey does not cover the period in which Dublin’s Q102, which has a 5 per cent market share in the capital, began simulcasting Mr Tubridy’s mid-morning show for Virgin Radio UK.

Wireless Ireland – which, like Virgin Radio UK, is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK – said it looked forward to “further growth bolstered by new talent acquisitions”, including Mr Tubridy’s weekday programme on Q102 and his Sunday show for Cork’s 96fm, Live 95, LMFM and Q102.

“We’re excited to see the continued growth in our audiences and delighted that content improvements seem to be resonating with them,” said Wireless Ireland managing director Sean Barry.

The JNLR indicates that 91 per cent of Irish adults and 87 per cent of 15-34-year-olds listen to radio every week, with Irish radio’s daily weekday audience growing by 193,000 year-on-year to 3.4 million.

Ciarán Cunningham, chief executive of industry body Radiocentre Ireland, said the growth was a testament to the quality of Irish radio.

“It is clear that radio listening is booming in Ireland and today’s figures are a great reminder that Irish radio is a central part of people’s lives,” he said.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics