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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# back to the mothership
Will Pat Kenny ever return to RTÉ?
It looks like a possibility.

IT HAS BEEN more than two years since Pat Kenny made the shock decision to leave the RTÉ after almost four decades at the station.

He has since made Newstalk his home, presenting a two-hour-long news and current affairs show that rivals his old slot on RTÉ Radio 1, placing him head-to-head with Sean O’Rourke.

The move was an expensive one for the Commericorp station, who bet big on Kenny’s reputation to pull in more listeners. His pay package was previously reported to be in the region of €2 million, spread out over five years.

2/8/2013. Pat Kenny First Day at Newstalk Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The veteran broadcaster has a lot more freedom now. Previously he would have been tied to RTÉ television and radio, but is free to pick and choose projects elsewhere as he pleases.

Kenny has since returned to our screens, appearing on UTV Ireland presenting the station’s launch programme and also chat show In The Round, in which he believes he produced “five pretty good” episodes before it was axed.

He has also appeared in front of the camera for a series of video reports with Newstalk.

However, he isn’t ruling out a return to Montrose if a project that interests him comes up in future, “something that would suit me in terms of what I do.”

I mean, I’m not going to be presenting the Rose of Tralee.

Video / YouTube

Kenny said he didn’t burn any bridges when he left RTÉ.

“I’m not turning my back on television but as projects come along, like In the Round, I will do them and select them as they suit me,” he told, “There’s a lot going on at the moment [in Irish television].”

Kenny said he would not be interested in a more permanent position at UTVI:

No, I’m happy at this time to keep myself pretty flexible and fluid.

However, he has some issues to address at Newstalk first. According to the most recent JNLR figures, released in October, The Pat Kenny Show was languishing at 134,000 listeners, a drop compared to the same time a year previous.

Upstairs from Newstalk in Today FM, The Anton Savage Show is racing ahead on 191,000, having managed to retain Ray D’Arcy’s listenership, while over at Radio 1 Sean O’Rourke enjoys a massive 328,000 listeners.

“I built a great audience for Sean, and he’s done very well to hang on to a lot of it,” Kenny said.

Video / YouTube

He described his own listenership as a “slow grow”, but the biggest problem he faces is inertia as kitchen radios across the country are still tuned to one station, with people unwilling to make the change. He says this isn’t an issue for drivetime, when most people are listening in their cars.

Regardless, his reputation in the Irish media landscape remains, but it could have been very different for Pat.

Cast your mind back to 1988. A young Pat Kenny presented the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Michelle Rocca. He was exposed to a massive audience and has revealed he was then inundated with offers from stations in the United Kingdom to head across the water.

EuroBoy1994 / YouTube

He said he has a ‘niggling regret’ about the decision to turn them all down.

That’s always one of those crossroads movements where you say, if you had said yes to those, everything else would have been different.

Video / YouTube

Pat Kenny: ‘My voice couldn’t even be heard in case an Irish person was nearby’ >

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