RTÉ's grip on top 10 loosens as second Today FM show makes list


RTÉ's grip on the top 10 most popular radio programmes has loosened further with Today FM nudging its second show on to the list.

Ian Dempsey's morning show on the independent station has replaced Eamon Dunphy's Sunday morning programme as the 10th most listened to programme in the State. Today FM colleague Ray D'Arcy continues to present the ninth most popular show, according to the latest JNLR TNS/mrbi survey, which covers the period from October 2006 to September 2007.

Morning Ireland, RTÉ's flagship current affairs programme, is still the most popular programme, with 426,000 listeners, but it lost 9,000 listeners (2 per cent) when compared with the previous survey period of July 2006 to June 2007.

Other RTÉ shows to lose listeners include Playback, Conversations with Eamon Dunphy and shows presented by Marian Finucane and Ryan Tubridy.

The biggest percentage gain in the top 10 was made by Pat Kenny, who now has 279,000 listeners. He also made strong gains in the previous survey. News at One had lost some listeners in the previous survey but it gained 5,000 listeners this time and moved up to fifth place.

Liveline made another strong showing, securing its position as the country's second most popular programme. Gerry Ryan remains the most popular presenter on 2FM and his show is the third most listened to.

The battle between RTÉ and Today FM for the hotly contested evening slot is intensifying with just 2,000 listeners separating RTÉ's Drivetime from The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM.

Cooper had overtaken his RTÉ rivals earlier this year but was later passed out by Drivetime. He gained 5.7 per cent more listeners in this survey, compared with a 1 per cent increase for Drivetime which moved to a 4.30pm starting time earlier this year.

RTÉ welcomed the results, saying it showed "continued general growth" across its radio services. Ana Leddy, head of RTÉ Radio 1, said the indications were that "strategic changes" made in the weekday afternoon schedules had taken root.

"Mooney [ presented by Derek Mooney] has captured the largest actual increase for any national programme, adding 18,000 listeners," she said.

Ian Dempsey has consolidated his hold on the breakfast slot with an all-time high of 240,000 listeners, compared with 179,000 for the Colm and Jim-Jim Breakfast Show on 2FM.

Today FM chief executive Willie O'Reilly said the station had gained listeners for all its daytime programmes. He said the station now produced four of the top five programmes listened to by the 20-44 year-old group.

This survey period covers the year since Newstalk FM launched its national service. It now has a weekly reach of 404,000 listeners - the number of people who say they "listened yesterday". Chief executive Elaine Geraghty said the station was particularly pleased some 49 per cent of listeners were now tuning in from outside Dublin. Its most popular presenter, George Hook, saw no change in his audience of 93,000.

RTÉ Radio 1 still holds the largest market share at 21.2 per cent, (up 0.3 per cent). 2FM holds a market share of 12.7 per cent (-0.3). Today FM's and Newstalk's market share increased by 0.1 per cent to 12.5 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively. RTÉ Lyric FM's share remained at 1.7 per cent.

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland welcomed the results, pointing out that independent stations now had a combined market share of 63.8 per cent, compared with 36.2 per cent for RTÉ. The results found that 85 per cent of adults listen to the radio every day.

In Dublin, FM104 was still the most listened to local radio station, with a market share of 12.5 per cent. It was closely followed by 98FM, on 11.7 per cent. Cork 96FM/103 County Sound increased its market share slightly to 52.9 per cent.

Highland Radio in Donegal still has the largest market share of a local station, at 63.4 per cent. Mid-West Radio saw a 2.4 per cent drop in its share, to 53.6 per cent, while Tipp FM increased its share by 6.3 per cent.