RTE revamps "Morning Ireland" format


NEXT Monday RTE Radio 1's most popular programme, Morning Ireland, will start at 7.30 a.m., offering an extra half hour of David Hanly, Richard Crowley and Aine Lawlor.

The new format will be less formal, more conversational and have more items planned ahead of time. The new Morning Ireland will be less about the day's news diary; it will offer a different balance between serious news items and lighter stories, according to RTE's managing editor (news), Mr Michael Wood.

Mr Good said Morning Ireland would not improve its audience figures if it simply offered more of the same.

The same slots for traffic, the review of the newspapers, business news and sport will be broadcast, but the presenters of these items will all be in the same studio, allowing comments and interventions from the presenters.

The extra half hour will encourage, greater emphasis on the regions, according to Mr Good. A greater emphasis on planning will allow the programme to come from around the country, with a number of "packages" already in place.

For the first time Morning Ireland will have an editor and staff working during the day, reflecting a move away from simply offering news items from the overnight staff.

It will also have extra resources, with an extra editor and reporter. The third presenter, in place since the autumn, was in preparation for this development.

Although Morning Ireland has the largest radio audience of any programme in the country, in common with Radio 1 generally it has experienced a decline in listeners over the last five years. Since the advent of local radio it has lost 30 per cent of its listeners.

The changes are part of a wider drive to revamp Radio 1's schedule in the face of new competition later this year when a national commercial radio station on air.

RTE fears that the new station will be a "younger" Radio 1, offering a mix of talk and in with news and current Such a development would light its problems in attracting younger listeners.

Recent changes have included moving the Arts Show to an afternoon slot, cutting the Pat Kenny Show by 10 minutes to allow a range of new programmes to be put in place just before the mains lunchtime news, radically altering the night time programmes and broadcasting around the clock.