2FM seeks older audience as young listeners decline


RTÉ’s 2FM is to change its focus from teenagers in a bid to appeal to an older audience.

The station will be repositioned to appeal to the 25-44 age group because of its waning audience among younger listeners.

The station’s percentage audience share has declined by one-quarter in the last five years from 15.2 per cent in 2004 to 11.6 per cent in the latest JNLR/TNS mrbi survey published in May.

The decline has been most pronounced in its flagship Gerry Ryan Show programme, which lost 11,000 listeners, down from 317,000 to 306,000.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the autumn schedule, head of RTÉ Radio Clare Duignan said the decline “could not be ignored”.

2FM has been under pressure from a proliferation of new radio stations such as Spin, iRadio and Beat.

“2FM has been targeting a 15 to 34 age group for a very long time,” she explained. “It is a very crowded part of the market. There are very strong local stations chasing that same audience. They are in a position to be very close to their listeners like guerrilla radio.”

Major changes to the schedule are expected when 2FM appoints a replacement for its head John Clarke, who is stepping down. The position will only be advertised internally in RTÉ this week because of the broadcaster’s financial position.

Ms Duignan said they were looking at more produced music programmes rather than playlists and more speech radio to appeal to a “slightly older adults who still feel quite young”.

The only change in the current 2FM schedule is the return of Dave Fanning from RTÉ Radio 1 to a weekday slot between 7pm and 8pm. A more radical transformation and rebranding exercise will take place in the new year.

A number of changes were announced yesterday to RTÉ Radio 1.

Drivetime is to be extended by a half an hour to 7pm, and it will be followed by Sport at 7, presented by Darragh Maloney, which will be up against the long-running and popular Off the Ball programme on Newstalk.

There will be two new arts shows: Arena, to be presented by Seán Rocks, and The Arts Tonight. Countrywide, a new rural affairs programme, will be presented by Damien O’Reilly with Ella McSweeney. Miriam meets… with Miriam O’Callaghan is to continue on Sunday mornings.

Lyric FM is to have three new programmes presented by Deirdre Purcell, Marty Whelan and Daybreak presented by Liz Nolan.

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta has also announced a number of new programmes, including a Galway magazine programme Iris Aniar with new presenter Eibhlín Ní Chonghaile.

Fanning said he did not like the direction 2FM had been taking. “It was going for a much younger audience, which I don’t think 2FM should have gone for,” he said.

“There is an audience there between 20 and 45 that could be got. Two things can help you get it. The RTÉ logo, which works for older people and not for kids, and they need to get some people in they know, which, to be honest, is myself and Gerry [Ryan] and a few others. I like the idea of that.”

A review of the Gerry Ryan Show has already begun and it is hoped that upcoming items like a public audience with the popular band The Script and a radio version of the Operation Transformation programme, which had been on RTÉ Television, will boost ratings.

“What we are trying to figure out at the moment is how we do that. When somebody picks up a newspaper, there is not a sign on the masthead which says that if you are under 40 you should not read this newspaper,” Ryan said.

“We are trying to do something that is complex, hugely challenging and ambitious.”