Pat Kenny adds 55,000 listeners, making his Newstalk show biggest on commercial radio

Oliver Callan’s slot is among those to lose listeners on RTÉ Radio 1, though station maintains its market share

Pat Kenny’s audience on Newstalk has surged to a record high to become the most listened-to show on Irish commercial radio, according to the latest radio figures, which show RTÉ Radio 1′s 9am weekday slot is among the programmes losing listeners on the station.

Kenny now has 229,000 listeners for his 9am to noon programme on Newstalk, which is part of the German-owned Bauer Media Audio Ireland group, according to the Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey for the period from April 2023 to the end of March.

This is up 13,000 since the last survey, which covered all of last year, but more significantly for Newstalk his listenership has climbed by a substantial 55,000 listeners over the past year, bringing it to 14th in the overall list of most-consumed programmes on Irish radio. The top 13 are all on RTÉ Radio 1.

The result confirms early indicators from last autumn that Kenny, who left RTÉ for Newstalk in 2013, had emerged as the key winner after a period of upheaval on Irish radio.


Radio 1′s hour-long 9am slot, presented by Oliver Callan on a permanent basis since the end of January, now has an audience of 330,000. This is down 13,000 on the previous survey and is 5,000 lower than the listenership recorded a year ago.

The data is amassed from a 12-month survey period, during which the slot had a rotating roster of stand-ins led by Callan, who stepped in after the departure of Ryan Tubridy.

The first quarter of last year, which predated RTÉ's hidden payments scandal but saw Tubridy announce that he was stepping down as host of The Late Late Show, has now fallen out of the survey period.

Elsewhere on RTÉ Radio 1, Morning Ireland’s listenership declined by 17,000 in comparison to the last survey, but it remains the biggest programme on Irish radio by a comfortable margin, with 469,000 listeners. Its audience is still up 32,000 year-on-year despite the recent fall.

Today with Claire Byrne held steady on 341,000 listeners and Louise Duffy added 4,000 to reach an audience of 218,000 at noon. There were modest declines across the rest of the peak-time weekday Radio 1 schedule, though most shows retained the same or a larger audience than they commanded a year ago. The exception was Joe Duffy’s Liveline, which now has 301,000 listeners, down 5,000 year-on-year.

Weekends on Radio 1 saw gains across the schedule, with Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin notably adding 20,000 listeners at lunchtime to reach 242,000.

Brendan O’Connor’s Saturday audience of 352,000 is up 10,000 since the last survey and 25,000 year-on-year, while on a Sunday, he now has 355,000 listeners, up 12,000 since the last survey and 36,000 year-on-year. This makes his shows the second- and third-biggest programmes on Irish radio behind Morning Ireland.

Peter Woods, head of RTÉ Radio 1, described the station’s numbers as “resilient”.

While Radio 1′s share of weekday peak-time listening remained at 20.7 per cent, Newstalk celebrated reaching a share of 8.2 per cent, its highest ever.

“The success of The Pat Kenny Show is particularly rewarding and richly deserved by Pat and his team,” said Newstalk managing editor Patricia Monahan.

Alongside the record high for Kenny, Newstalk Breakfast, presented by Ciara Kelly and Shane Coleman, rose to an all-time high of 157,000, up 8,000 both since the last survey and year-on-year.

Andrea Gilligan’s Lunchtime Live added 5,000 listeners to reach a high of 118,000, up 12,000 year-on-year, though as with Radio 1, listenership figures on Newstalk softened later in the afternoon.

RTÉ 2FM’s market share edged up to 6.1 per cent, as minor slippage for 2FM breakfast and Jennifer Zamparelli – now at 143,000 and 135,000 listeners respectively – was offset by an 8,000 gain in this survey for Tracy Clifford’s early afternoon show, which now has an audience of 121,000, up 12,000 year-on-year. The 2 Johnnies have 151,000 listeners, up 1,000 since the last survey and up 21,000 year-on-year.

Laura Fox, who is tipped to replace Doireann Garrihy on 2FM’s breakfast show following Garrihy’s decision to leave the station, has 129,000 and 120,000 listeners on Saturday and Sunday respectively, with both shows making gains.

The latest JNLR data does not capture the audience for Q102′s simulcast of Tubridy’s new show on sister station Virgin Radio UK, as it has not been on for long enough.

However, Q102 owner Wireless Ireland, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK & Ireland, said the station as a whole had grown its weekly reach by “a massive” 26 per cent over the past year to 184,000 listeners. Its market share in Dublin is now 5.3 per cent, up from 5 per cent in the last survey.

“While the Q102 figure only includes three months for the new Ryan Tubridy Show, it is pleasing to see that it and the other shows across the schedule are delivering new listeners and playing a strong part in its growth story,” Wireless said.

Today FM – which like Newstalk and a number of other local and regional stations is owned by Bauer – recorded a market share of 9.5 per cent, down a fraction, but it noted that its weekly reach has moved closer to 1 million. For now, Radio 1 is the only station with a weekly reach above 1 million.

At breakfast, Ian Dempsey has 216,000 listeners, down 12,000 since the last survey, but up 8,000 year-on-year.

Today FM’s biggest show is Dave Moore, who slipped by just 2,000 listeners to an audience of 228,000 in midmorning, which is still 23,000 higher than the audience recorded for the slot a year ago. Mr Moore presented the show with Dermot Whelan until last August.

Today FM has 139,000 listeners at lunchtime, up 3,000 year-on-year, with this slot presented since January by Louise Cantillon. Ray Foley has 161,000 listeners and The Last Word with Matt Cooper has 181,000, both down slightly since the last survey, although Mr Cooper’s audience is up 13,000 year-on-year.

Overall, the JNLR indicates that 91 per cent of Irish adults and 87 per cent of 15-34 year-olds listen to radio every week, with Irish radio’s daily weekday audience close to 3.4 million. Almost 2.2 million adults listen to their local or regional station every weekday.

Ciarán Cunningham, chief executive of industry group Radiocentre Ireland, said Irish radio continued to boom.

“All parts of the Irish population, from young to old, are listening to radio in huge numbers because it is a key part of Irish daily life.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics