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Newstalk: 'People moved the dial for Pat...and now they've discovered Ivan, Chris, Seán and George'

The radio station is hopeful that its radio personalities will continue to lure people over from RTÉ programmes.

Pat Kenny on his first day in Newstalk.
Pat Kenny on his first day in Newstalk.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

DESPITE MIXED MEDIA reports from the last radio listenership figures, Newstalk is upbeat about Pat Kenny’s move and the prospects for the imminent JNLR results.

In a recent interview with TheJournal.ie, station manager Garrett Harte said that people have been ‘moving the dial’, just as its campaign urged last autumn.

“People moved the dial for Pat and now they are finding Seán, Jonathan and George, and Ivan and Chris. That’s part of the strategy of bringing him in from RTÉ,” explained Harte, who is optimistic about next month’s results.

“We are very confident of what we have seen so far that we are well on target to deliver our targets for the station.”

Figures in January showed that Pat Kenny was bringing in about 96,000 listeners during his 10am talk show but Seán O’Rourke, his replacement at RTÉ Radio One was still at 327,000.

But Harte insists the books cannot be read until a full 12 months has played out. That will not come through in the numbers until November this year.

He also mentioned the importance of Ivan Yates reunited with Chris Donoghue for the breakfast show. The programme added 5,000 listeners to 126,000 in January.

“I think for anyone who tunes in, you can see the great chemistry that both of them have. There is huge respect from Ivan for Chris and Chris for Ivan.

“It is [about] developing the breakfast show to be the agenda setting programme on radio that you’ve got this tenacious young journalist in Chris who is digging for stories and then you’ve got the old, wise former Minister who gives his perspective on what is happening behind the doors of power.

I think it is a very strong, alternative to Morning Ireland. We’re seeing that anecdotally with text messages and from reaction to the station.

He noted that there is a rivalry with Morning Ireland and a target to poach listeners from the RTÉ pillar.

“Radio is a very competitive market and you’ve got to make people smile in the morning, as much as bring them breaking news,” he adds, stating that Yates and Ivan bring all the elements of a functional news and current affairs programme, along with some entertainment.

There is also a push to bring music radio listeners across to the news station.

“They now need to know about interest rates, business, and other news,” he explained. The 30 to 55 age category is central to the strategy when planning content each week.

In terms of the station’s sports coverage, much was said of the departure of the five-strong Off the Ball team during March 2013.

Harte admits that the figures expected next month will be “bigger than we would have hoped this time last year”.

Ger Gilroy has built a team that has taken the programme from strength to strength, explained Harte.

In the January JNLR figures, Off the Ball gained 4,000 listeners, creeping up to the 43,000 mark.

Read: Newstalk lodges complaint over RTÉ’s refusal to run ad

More: RTE is refusing to run an ad for Newstalk, says Newstalk…

DailyEdge.ie: A psychic who reads arse-fortunes was on Newstalk today

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