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Anton Savage

How filling in for Ray D'Arcy is a bit like Pulp Fiction

And how will Anton Savage make sure his listenership doesn’t go into “freefall”?

IT HAS NOW been more than a year since Ray D’Arcy made the shock decision to jump ship at Today FM and head back to RTÉ after more than 15 years at the commercially-run station.

The 51-year-old broadcaster is now presenting a shorter, afternoon programme on Radio 1, along with the Saturday night flagship chat show on RTÉ One.

But back at Today FM, Anton Savage has taken over the reins of this key timeslot in Irish radio – and after a year, things aren’t looking too shabby.

Today FM listeners would have already been familiar with Savage. He was a frequent fill-in presenter for both Ray D’Arcy and The Last Word, and later gained a weekly foothold by taking over The Sunday Show.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, he explained the process of settling into this now permanent position at the station:

“When you stand in for somebody in a position like Ray was, or like Gerry Ryan, that kind of dominance in a show, it’s a bit like Vincent Vaga taking out Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction: you’re very polite, you’re nice, you’re well behaved, and then you go home in the evening and hope nothing goes wrong.

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It’s different then when you take over, and I think there’s a period where the audience has to decide, ‘Can we live with you being in our kitchen every morning?’.

“I think we’re at the point now where that cohort is starting to come in.”

TheJournal.ie / YouTube

The Anton Savage Show has held on to a significant chunk of the listenership D’Arcy had built up previously, although it has yet to record an increase in the JNLR listenership figures. The most recent decline was 3,000.

This isn’t a worry, Savage says, and is a natural process of launching a new show, and at 191,000 listeners it is still one of the most popular mid-morning chat shows on Irish radio.

There is a period where the audience does that turn, where people decide ‘No, I don’t like this guy’, or some people decide ‘Yeah, I will, I’ll stay’, where again, you hope, other people decide ‘Yes, I’ll join’.

“In what I’ve seen before, that tends to be an eighteen month, two-year period. So I think if we get to the end of two years and we say, we are in absolutely panic free-fall like we’re going off the cliff, that’ll sharpen my mind on a number of issues.”

TheJournal.ie / YouTube

He said the focus for the next year will be to keep up the show’s offbeat style, “taking an angle [on big issues] that people might not have heard”.

While current affairs radio is driven by matters like the courts and politics, a show like his needs that kind of “clever response” to stories in the headlines.

I think we have to keep doing that, I think the team are very good at doing that, and then into that you have to weave the mad big ticket stuff.

That, as Savage happily noted, previously involved taking Ice Cube and Kevin Hart around Dublin on a pedibus.

The next few months will be crucial to Anton Savage Show as it moves to build on this momentum.

Today FM / YouTube

Read: ‘The more I complain about this the more I realise I am actually Alan Partridge’ >

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