Ivan Yates overtakes Pat Kenny on Newstalk as most radio shows gain listeners

Communicorp station reaches highest market share, while Radio 1 reverses recent slip

Ivan Yates has overtaken Pat Kenny as Newstalk's most popular presenter, helping the station to its highest ever market share, according to the latest radio listenership figures, while Miriam O'Callaghan and the News at One team of Áine Lawlor and Claire Byrne were among the key risers on Radio 1.

Audience gains were recorded across the board for Irish radio stations in the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey for the 12 months to the end of June, which was based on higher population estimates than the previous survey.

All weekday peak-time shows on RTÉ Radio 1 increased their audience, several of them arresting a recent decline in listenership, while RTÉ 2fm also made gains for the sixth consecutive survey and reached more listeners in its target 15-34-year-old market.

On Communicorp Media station Newstalk, drivetime presenter Yates now has 153,000 listeners, up 8,000 since the last JNLR "book", published in April. His show The Hard Shoulder only began last September, meaning this JNLR does not record the full-year impact of his occupancy of the slot.


Pat Kenny reached a new high of 152,000 listeners in his mid-morning slot, up 4,000 since the last survey and 1,000 year-on-year, while Newstalk Breakfast was flat since the last survey at 126,000, up 7,000 on the figure a year ago.

Market share

Newstalk’s market share reached a record for the station of 6.7 per cent nationally and 11.1 per cent in Dublin. “We are delighted with the results,” said Newstalk’s Chris Doyle.

Although Radio 1 staged a recovery, only three of its weekday peak-time shows have higher audiences than they did a year ago: Morning Ireland, News at One and Ray D'Arcy.

The breakfast programme, which saw the addition of Bryan Dobson to its presenter roster last autumn, remains the most listened-to radio show in Ireland with 438,000 listeners, up 7,000 since the last survey and up 2,000 year-on-year.

News at One, presented by Lawlor and Byrne (the latter joining in February), has performed well of late and now has 346,000 listeners, up 14,000 since the last survey and up 21,000 year-on-year.

"It is a good book for us," said Tom McGuire, head of Radio 1. He also pointed to a 30,000 gain since the last survey for Sunday Miscellany, which now has 260,000 listeners and will mark its 50th anniversary later this year.

Also on Sunday, Miriam O'Callaghan has added 16,000 listeners since the last survey, with her show reaching 264,000, which is also up 16,000 year-on-year, while Byrne's replacement on a Saturday, Cormac Ó hEadhra, and Saturday Sport also made decent gains.

Ray D’Arcy’s afternoon listenership arrived at 219,000, up 14,000 since the last survey and 2,000 year-on-year. Mr McGuire said D’Arcy had the potential to build further on his audience, which peaked more than a year ago at 226,000.

Although Today with Seán O'Rourke, Ryan Tubridy and Marian Finucane's weekend shows all added listeners this time, their figures remain lower than they were a year ago.

Younger listeners

On 2fm, Tracy Clifford and Eoghan McDermott made gains for the station in the afternoon and on drivetime, reaching 134,000 and 144,000 listeners respectively.

Head of 2fm Dan Healy hailed their performance and that of the wider 2fm team and said the station was reaching new listeners courtesy of its presence at music festivals, including Longitude, where earlier this month its DJ Mo K and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra staged "musical journey" show The Story of Hip Hop.

“We need to be at Longitude for that younger audience. We want those 19-20 year-olds coming to us,” said Mr Healy. “The claim that radio can’t reach 15-34-year-olds is wrong.”

On Communicorp's Today FM, Ian Dempsey now has 167,000 listeners at breakfast, up 4,000 both since the last survey and year-on-year. Mid-morning hosts Dermot Whelan and Dave Moore also have 167,000 listeners, up 5,000 since the last survey and 3,000 year-on-year, while Muireann O'Connell added 5,000 listeners at lunchtime since the last survey, taking her to 106,000.

In the Cork market, Red FM jumped to a record market share of 25 per cent, its highest in 16 years on air. In Dublin, FM104 slipped to third place behind Radio 1 and Newstalk.

Ipsos MRBI, which conducts the survey of about 16,900 people for the radio industry and advertisers, revised the population estimates on which it bases its audience figures in line with those published in the latest CSO Labour Force Survey.

Gabrielle Cummins, chairwoman of Choose Radio, said the figures proved the "unparalleled ability of radio to reach consumers". The industry group urged advertisers to "follow the listener" as they plan their campaigns.

Selected figures JNLR listenership figures for July 2017 to end of June 2018

Miriam O'Callaghan (Radio 1) 264,000 up 16,000

News at One (Radio 1) 346,000 up 14,000

Liveline (Radio 1) 381,000 up 11,000

The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk) 153,000 up 8,000

Morning Ireland (Radio 1) 438,000 up 7,000

Eoghan McDermott (2fm) 144,000 up 8,000

Tracy Clifford (2fm) 134,000 up 5,000

Pat Kenny (Newstalk) 152,000 up 4,000

Ian Dempsey (Today FM) 167,000 up 4,000

Source: Ipsos MRBI

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

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