Getting On

Young listeners turned off by 2FM's veteran presenters

Efforts by RTE to lure young radio listeners to 2FM by using established broadcasters appears to have failed the test with the station losing 84,000 listeners nationally last year, 65,000 of which were in the younger 15-34 year old age group, figures from the JNLR listenership survey for January to December 2005 indicate.

Paul Moran of Mediaworks said that the main news story from this report most relevant to advertisers was that 2FM's average quarter hour adult listenership from 7am to 7pm weekdays dropped by 13 per cent against 2004 and RTE Radio One by six points. In contrast, Today FM's adult listenership increased by 11 per cent last year.

Among 15-24 years olds, 2FM listenership was down by six per cent to 175,000. Some 26,000 listeners tuned out of the 2FM breakfast show since Marty Whelan took over. Moran said that advertisers would have a better idea by next autumn as to the true extent to which young listeners were making the switch from Whelan's slot.

Ian Dempsey on Today FM (7am-9am) has now overtaken 2FM at breakfast time. The Gerry Ryan Show, on air from 9am until noon, was down from 382,000 to 331,000 listeners, a drop of 13.3 per cent. In contrast, Ray D'Arcy at Today FM jumped by 13.8 per cent last year and most of its 223,000 audience comprises young listeners.

On RTE Radio 1, Morning Ireland remains the country's most listened to radio programme show by holding on to its 476,000 audience. Ryan Tubridy replaced Marian Finucane on the 9am-10am slot and the yearly figure there showed a drop of five points to 357,000. Pat Kenny was down by 2.6 per cent, from 301,000 to 293,000 listeners.

News at One, presented by Sean O'Rourke weekdays, was down 3.7 per cent to 312,000, while Joe Duffy's Liveline recorded a 6.4 per cent drop to 322,000 listeners. Playback with Ruth Buchanan had a 29.8 per cent rise to 279,000 and Derek Mooney with his Mooney Goes Wild on One immediately afterwards was up by 31.1 per cent to 257,000.

In Dublin, RTE Radio 1 is still the number one station with 270,000 (29 per cent) daily audience. FM104 made gains, from 188,000 to 202,000 (21 per cent of all adults), with an emphasis on 20-24 year olds. 98FM was down from 179,000 to 164,000 last year, while the UTV-owned Q102 made a two point gain in market share to 121,000.

Both 2FM and Today FM gained 1,000 listeners in the capital in 2005. Denis O'Brien's Spin 103.8 continued to make ground, with 25,000 new daily listeners last year and 20,000 among the station's main target market of 15-19 year olds. Bray-based Country 106.8FM gained 9,000 listeners and now has a daytime share of 2.8 per cent.

Newstalk's weekday drivetime presenters, Eamon Dunphy in the morning and George Hook in the evenings, made big advances in audiences last year, albeit from an extremely low base. Dunphy's listenership was up from 18,000 to 25,000, up 56.2 per cent, while Hook managed to almost double his daily average from 18,000 to 35,000 listeners.

Hook is now the biggest draw for Newstalk and The Right Hook now has a bigger audience in Dublin than Matt Cooper's Last Word on Today FM – 35,000 compared to Cooper's 27,000 listeners. The results are particularly heartening for Newtalk, which is the only contender for the new national talk radio licence under consideration by the BCI.

In Hook's native Cork city and suburbs, all the national stations lost listeners, while the locals made gains. Some 49 per cent of all Corkorians now tune into a local station on a daily basis. Red FM reversed its downward trend by adding 8,000 new listeners, mostly 15-34 year olds, while 96FM upped its reach by 17,000 from an already high base.

The JNLR showed that the country's overall radio audience was down slightly year-on-year, from 87 per cent (2, 813,000) yesterday listenership of all adults in 2004 to 85 per cent (2,811,000) last year. The most remarkable drop was among all females, where the figure was down from 87 per cent (1,426,000) to 85 per cent (1,413,000) last year.

In an analysis of 20-44 year old radio listeners, Gary Power of Saor Communications reported on what might be the best stations for advertisers with modest budgets to use. The research was based on buying spots between 7am and 1pm over one week, Monday to Friday. In Dublin, thee 20-44 age group comprises about 504,000 adults.

The station which delivered the best results was FM104, with an 18 per cent reach and an average frequency of 2.8 times. While there was quite a gap between first and second spot, 2FM earned the recognition for delivering 12 per cent of the target audience at a frequency of 2.9. In Cork, 96FM emerged on top with 34 per cent reach at 4.3 times.

'Newstalk's drivetime presenters Dunphy and Hook made significant advances in audiences during 2005, albeit from an extremely low base. The Right Hook has now a bigger audience in Dublin than Today FM's Last Word with Matt Cooper'

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