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'What better tribute could we have': Marian Finucane Show gained 19,000 listeners in final months on air

The figures cover the three months leading up to the veteran broadcaster’s death in January.

THE SUNDAY EDITION of Marian Finucane’s radio programme gained 19,000 listeners in the months prior to the presenter’s death.

Tom McGuire, who heads RTÉ Radio One, hailed the ratings jump as a fitting tribute to the radio host who died on 2 January aged 69.  

The latest JNLR listenership figures released this afternoon show that Finucane had 309,000 listeners on a Sunday. With 341,000 listeners her Saturday show was the third most listened to programme on Irish radio.

“It’s just a testament to the amount of work and dedication she and that programme team out in, to Saturdays and Sundays, that it could come out with a performance like that,” McGuire told TheJournal.ie.

The figures cover the three months just before Finucane’s death. McGuire added that the stats show the challenge RTÉ faces in attempting to fill the void left by her passing.

My view is that Marian Finucane cannot be replaced. We’re going to take some time to see what our options are.

The station is planning to launch a new programme in the slot some time in March and is hoping to reveal who its presenter will be later this month.

The figures reveal that RTÉ has 18 of the top 20 programmes on Irish airwaves with The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk and the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM taking the 19th and 20th spots respectively.

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Miriam O’Callaghan’s Sunday programme also made impressive gains, racking 29,000 new listeners.

McGuire attributed O’Callaghan’s spike to the show fulfilling what listeners are looking for at the weekend, as well as the station’s investment in social media.

“There are two very distinct audiences – the weekday audience and the weekend audience – and they have different needs and different demands,” he explained.

That longer form of interviews with Marian, the panel that went through the papers; Miriam with the guest for the longer interview and the music as well on Sunday morning. I think people sit-back or else they’re out and about listening in their ear. It just gives you a different audience.

 The good news continued for Radio One on its weekday schedule where Drivetime racked up 18,000 new listeners and Morning Ireland increased by 12,000. Most other programmes also made gains, cancelling out similar losses in the previous quarter.

Here’s a breakdown (in all cases the rise or fall in listenership is compared to the previous quarter).

RTÉ Radio One

Weekdays

  • Morning Ireland – 441,000 (up 12,000)
  • The Ryan Tubridy Show – 336,000 (up 2,000)
  • Today with Sean O’Rourke – 321,000 (up 6,000)
  • The Ronan Collins Show 223,000 (up 8,000)
  • News at One – 323,000 (up 3,000)
  • Liveline – 363,000 (unchanged)
  • The Ray D’Arcy Show – 224,000 (up 5,000)
  • Drivetime  – 229,000 (up 18,000)

 Saturday

  • The Marian Finucane Show – 341,000 (down 2,000)
  • Business Programme – 315,000 (up 14,000)

Sunday

  • Sundays with Miriam – 265,000 (up 29,000)
  • The Marian Finucane Show – 309,000 (up 19,000)

2 FM

Radio One’s sister station 2FM had a much more mixed performance with its breakfast show scoring well while its afternoon offerings recorded notable losses.

The station’s head Dan Healy wasn’t concerned, citing its audience increased audience share among 15-34 year olds.

Discussing losses for Tracy Clifford and Jenny Greene, Healy said they are examining the possible causes of the drop-off but don’t find it concerning as Clifford has been a “secret weapon” for the station’s ratings.

“She used to come on air at 1pm, coming off Nicky and Jenny, coming off a speech thing into something else; So we’re not sure what we’re handing her really. That then would knock-on to Jenny Greene,” he explained.

They’re two really tip-top broadcasters so it’s not something that we’re worried about.

Here’s a breakdown of its listeners:

  • 2FM Breakfast with Doireann and Eoghan – 142,000 (up 7,000)
  • Jennifer Zamparelli – 157,000 (up 1,000)
  • Tracy Clifford – 134,000 (down 8,000)
  • Jenny Greene – 130,000 (down 9,000)

Referencing another recent RTÉ death, Healy revealed that it’s the first time 2FM figures that didn’t feature Larry Gogan have ever been released.

Newstalk and Today FM

Newstalk’s weekday peak-time shows all dropped listeners compared to the October Survey. The Hard Shoulder, presented by Ivan Yates, remains the station’s biggest show with 181,000 listeners, a drop of 1,000 on the last quarter.

Here’s how the station’s flagship shows performed:

  • Newstalk Breakfast – 119,000 (down 6,000)
  • The Pat Kenny Show –  137,000 (down 4,000)
  • The Hard Shoulder –  181,000 (down 1,000)

Today FM posted modest gains with the exception of the Ian Dempsey Breakfast show, which fell 3,000 listeners to 174,000.

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Ceimin Burke

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