Pat’s substance will win out over style

by John Boland

THOSE of us who’ve managed to get through our lives without listening to RTE 2fm — certainly not in the evening and hardly ever in the morning, even when Gerry Ryan was in situ — will be bidding adieu to Ryan Tubridy later in the summer when he moves from his 9am Radio 1 slot to become Ryan’s successor.

Depending on one’s point of view, that adieu will either be tearful or uttered with relief.

There are many, no doubt, who will miss his relentlessly chirpy persona and the endless blather and blithe trivia that his style both embodies and encourages from his guests, but for some listeners the mix of ladmag-lite and chicklit chirruping has been less ingratiating than grating.

And when the occasional arresting interview occurs, it’s hard not to feel that it has accidentally strayed in from a more substantial show — Pat Kenny’s, perhaps.

So it’s good to learn that the RTE management is considering bringing forward Kenny‘s current 10am-noon programme so that it will run from 9am until 11am — a move apparently favoured by Kenny himself.

There had been speculation Joe Duffy might be transferred from his afternoon ‘Liveline’ show to take over from Tubridy but that would seem a potentially disastrous move, both for Radio 1 and for Duffy himself.

There’s no way of knowing how Duffy would perform in this crucial post-Morning Ireland slot, or what appetite listeners would have for his folksy plain-man approach to whatever format and content deemed appropriate for him. But he’s been so distinctive and successful in his ‘Liveline’ persona, which attracts an audience of 425,000, that a move from his comfort zone to an unknown entity could be suicidal.

RTE, for its part, would be advised to play safe, too. It obviously wishes to hold on to as many of its huge ‘Morning Ireland’ audience (currently 426,000) as it can and will intend to ensure that’s what will happen.

It has succeeded in doing that with Tubridy’s show, which has managed to attract more than 350,000 listeners — more, in fact, than the succeeding Kenny programme; though, by the time the latter comes on air most working people are at their jobs and many younger people are at school or college. So bringing his show forward would probably increase his audience.

These are statistical arguments, but the public service argument is even more important. Quite simply Pat Kenny is our outstanding broadcaster, with an authoritative range and a breadth of knowledge that encompasses current affairs, social and religious matters, science, sports and the arts.

For these reasons, his morning programme is regarded as unmissable by anyone who prizes no-nonsense interviewing and forthright comment. And, thus, positioning him immediately after ‘Morning Ireland’ can only be a good thing.

– John Boland

Irish Independent

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