WONDERING what to do with an unpopular radio programme? Here’s an idea. Throw a popular television programme at it. See if it fits.
RTE yesterday formally announced that Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O’Shea and Keith Walsh will be taking over the early morning 2FM spot vacated by Hector Ó hEochagáin before Christmas.
Maguire and O’Shea will be known to audiences as the stars of Republic of Telly on RTE Two TV, which draws a large nationwide following for its brazen but, it must be said, often overcooked satire. Walsh, meanwhile, is programme director and sometime breakfast show presenter at Phantom 105.2, which broadcasts only to Dublin. So the trio can probably best be described for the present as Jennifer and Bernard and The Other One.
2FM boss Dan Healy is anxious to draw younger urban listeners back to the station, or at least to improve its abysmal 7% market share. To this end, Hector’s ‘Keep ’er Lit’ routine had to be quietly extinguished after only two years – Hector being thought to have got up the noses of metropolitan youth.
Presumably the expectation with this new line-up is that their show will be younger, hipper – not that it would be hard to be hipper than Hector, god help us – and more urban, and will therefore be better able to compete with the early morning radio demigod that is Ian Dempsey on Today FM.
Consider for a moment how many brave soldiers have now been sent over the top to take a potshot at Ian Dempsey, and Dempsey has picked them all off. It’s sad to see so many young lives wasted.
The problem is that 2FM’s ““core demographic” – its target ‘youth’ audience – is reportedly the 20-44 age group. That’s 20-year-olds and 44-year-olds – two whole different generations – being courted at the same time.
Twenty-year-olds don’t pick 2FM any more. They pick radio that 44-year-olds have never even heard of. And then the prospect of an ‘establishment’ station such as 2FM making an effort to be cool – doing “zany” and “screwball” and “we’re pure mad” at 7am – is just so, so Dancing Dad.
But even if those disparate young and not-so-young audiences do tune in to Jen & Ben & The Other One, it won’t solve 2FM’s more lasting problems. As soon as the clock strikes nine and Ryan Tubridy’s theme music comes on, the target demographic will all be shouting at once: “Mum/Gran, your show is starting”.
Published in the Irish Daily Mail, 30 January 2014