Why do so many stars leave 2FM? – The Irish Times

Why do so many stars leave 2FM?  – The Irish Times

Could the last person to leave 2FM turn off the lights? As much as one might be reluctant to reference Tory-supporting tabloid headlines, paraphrasing the Sun’s infamous commentary on the 1992 British general election seems a sadly appropriate (and suddenly topical) way to describe the exodus of presenters that shake up RTÉ’s second radio station.

This week’s news, first, that both Johnnies will be leaving the station at the end of the month and, second, that Jennifer Zamparelli will not be returning to her eponymous show after her recent time off, comes on the heels of the Doireann Garrihy news. her decision to leave her role as co-presenter of the 2FM breakfast show. If losing one renowned announcer can be considered a misfortune and two an oversight, what does four count?

It’s not sadness, judging by the ecstatic form of Johnny “Smacks” McMahon and Johnny “B” O’Brien on Tuesday. Drive with the 2 Johnnies (weekday). “The good news is we have nine shows left,” McMahon says, sounding like he’s beaming. It’s hard to know whether fans or skeptics will be happier with this information, although Montrose bosses who suspended the duo from the airwaves early in their tenure might be nervous about what’s to come when McMahon adds, with sinister jocularity: “No They can get rid of us.”

That said, the atmosphere is one of joy rather than recrimination. Although the pair don’t explain why they’re quitting their radio jobs, they do take the opportunity to promote their upcoming album and tour, which seems like reason enough, as does their ongoing podcast. The suspicion that they’ve been spreading themselves a little is only heightened by their material, such as their long reflection on being forced to watch TV shows they didn’t like by their life partners. “There’s only so much you can do during a shift,” McMahon concludes tersely.

It may seem strange that someone would miss that one-way wit, no matter how much, guys, he delivers. Similarly, Wednesday’s segment searching for Ireland’s best whistler is original – “I can’t believe this is working,” says O’Brien, with commendable honesty – but, like all novelties, it wears thin. However, the fact that McMahon and O’Brien were again confirmed as 2FM’s highest-rated presenters in last week’s Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey underlines their unique appeal, not to mention the headache their departure will cause management when it comes to audience retention. numbers.

The situation might not seem so critical in the future. Breakfast 2FM (weekdays), where Garrihy is one of three presenters, along with Donncha O’Callaghan and Carl Mullan. But it’s hard to imagine the show continuing without her. Since they began broadcasting together in 2021, Garrihy has been the catalyst for the trio’s live chemistry, the pivotal figure balancing O’Callaghan’s bumbling playfulness and Mullan’s hyperactive banter.

While this formula helps create an engaging and lively morning atmosphere, the content is so frothy that The 2 Johnnies can seem like a philosophical roundtable by comparison. On Wednesday, the hot topic is whether Mullan should replace his charcoal barbecue with a gas version, with digressions on the safety ramifications of grilling chicken thighs. It’s as convincing as it sounds. To be fair, there is a certain knowing quality to all this: her non-informative summary is titled Claire Byrne’s Bin because, as the presenters laugh, “it’s rubbish”.

Still, amid the good-natured banter, there is the occasional revealing line. When a teacher taking part in the daily quiz suggests that the Leaving Certificate business exam might contain a question on cash flow, O’Callaghan delivers a silent, deadly sneer. “Get Doireann on it,” the former Ireland rugby international jokes, to howls of (possibly) mock offense from Garrihy, who was previously reprimanded for the unauthorized use of RTÉ studios for a side promotional deal. Mullan springs into action, imagining Father Ted-style scenarios involving his co-host: “Doireann just had the money in his account.”

Vertigo aside, the dross hits what is surely a crucial element in Garrihy’s, and indeed the 2 Johnnies’, decision to leave 2FM. In the wake of the Ryan Tubridy pay scandal, RTÉ’s increased scrutiny of its staff’s external business activities inevitably has a greater impact on younger stars with lucrative social media or podcast presences, which in turn affects 2FM, aimed at young people, more than him. Radio 1. In that context, Garrihy’s resignation statement about wanting to “continue with the projects I have been dreaming of” seems relevant. Whatever the reason, 2FM’s morning menu will be poorer without it.

Jennifer Zamparelli (2FM, weekdays) had been conspicuous by his absence for the last month, the only explanation being that he was on leave. On Thursday, the presenter, who has two young children, said she would not return to the morning show she has hosted since May 2019. As RTÉ acknowledges, Zamparelli’s arrival at the station, a decade ago, was key in its Renewal strategy to attract younger listeners.

In place of the host, her weekend colleague Laura Fox has been doing a creditable job as a fill-in, but lacks the public profile that Zamparelli has gained from years of television work. The station’s decision to stay away from 2FM forever only adds to the impression of a station calamitously bereft of its most popular personalities.

It is a rapid reversal of fortune for 2FM, which despite its buoyant self-image had been charting a steady course over the past year, even as the wider RTÉ network navigated choppy waters. There are positive points, especially Tracy Clifford (weekdays), whose engaging style (enthusiastic and friendly, without being too loud or too anxious) has paid off in higher ratings for his afternoon show. But Clifford’s performance isn’t enough to offset the turmoil and uncertainty engulfing the network’s three biggest daytime shows.

RTÉ says “2FM will announce its summer programming in the coming weeks.” Given the staff turnover at the station, a radical overhaul seems necessary, and indeed inevitable, if we are to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Enroll in push alerts and get the best news, analysis and commentary delivered straight to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – find the latest episode here