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What does the departure of key presenters mean for 2FM?

At lunchtime today, RTÉ 2FM announced that the ‘Drive it with the 2 Johnnies’ show will finish at the end of the month.

The popular podcasting duo, Johnny Smacks and Johnny B, joined the station in February 2022 where they hosted the afternoon show, and in a statement released earlier today, it was confirmed their show will end on 31 May.

It comes just weeks after Doireann Garrihy from the 2FM Breakfast Show announced she too was leaving the station at the end of this month.


So where does this leave RTÉ 2FM?

31 May sees an unprecedented day for 2FM as they say goodbye to three of their key presenters.

Doireann Garrihy – the original breakfast presenter on the current morning team line-up – announced a few weeks ago, that after five years, that she was leaving 2FM Breakfast on 31 May.

Then this lunchtime, a bolt from the blue with the statement that the hugely popular duo, the 2 Jonnnies are leaving RTÉ 2FM on that date too, with both RTÉ and the 2 Jonnies themselves issuing statements.

Doireann Garrihy leaves 2FM later this month

The RTÉ statement quoted Head of RTÉ 2FM, Dan Healy saying that after two “very successful years” they are leaving, adding that they “will be sad to see them go…”.

Mr Healy said: “The listenership for the drivetime show has been very strong from the very start and the most recent listenership results continued that trend.

He said the 2 Johnnies had been “a great part of the 2FM family” and he wished them “well as they continue their adventures”.

So, if you are looking for clues as to why they have suddenly decided to depart 2FM, there isn’t much there.

In that RTÉ statement too, one of the duo, Johnny Smacks thanks their colleagues and the listeners saying, “we have unreal craic”.

He then leaves on an intriguing note, “and we may be back on radio someday but for now as we say on the show.. we are out the gap…”.

“There’s great people working in 2FM and we wish them all the success in the world,” he said.

So, no explanations for their sudden exit, but in their own personal statement, the 2 Johnnies they say that the show “goes out on a high as the most listened to show on RTÉ 2FM”.

They then effusively thank their colleagues and listeners and go on to list a long and impressive roll call of their upcoming projects and clearly, they have a busy schedule ahead in the coming months.

To their credit, the 2 Johnnies are recognised as self-made, successful and busy presenters with a huge following.

The 2 Johnnies will finish on 2FM on 31 May

It was this profile which drew 2FM bosses to them in the first place, and reading the list of plans ahead, they are getting bigger and bigger.

Their schedule includes events such as a world tour encompassing America and Australia, along with their own festival at St Anne’s Park in Dublin and then a mention of their podcast, which they describe as the country’s number 1 on Spotify, so it’s easy to see how the daily commitment of a drivetime show, is a stretch.


But what does this all mean for 2FM bosses?

Going back to the RTÉ Statement, while everyone on 2FM says they wish them the best of luck, there is no doubt this is a major blow for the schedule and a major headache for management.

On music stations and commercial stations the received wisdom is that the pillar slots are the Breakfast slot (which carries its own industry phrase, “win breakfast, win the day”, the Drive Time slot which is now on uncertain ground and then look across the schedule and there is another gap too.

Having been absent for some weeks now, listeners could be forgiven for getting curious about presenter Jennifer Zamparelli’s plans on the station.

She presents the mid-morning show (the old Gerry Ryan show) which broadcasts daily from 9am to 12pm.

RTÉ News asked about Ms Zamparelli’s absence from the airwaves and RTÉ just confirmed that the presenter “is on leave”.

They also say that they will be announcing the RTÉ 2FM summer schedule shortly, so while they are trying to move the pieces to fill that jigsaw, having gaps in those key shows is a headache now.


But why now?

All of this taking place against a background where last week’s JNLR listenership figures saw RTÉ 2FM weekly reach increase by +77,000 YOY (year on year) to 764,000.

And there is the controversy over RTÉ presenter pay and commercial activities which came into focus in the last twelve months.

There has been a sea change in the culture around commercial activities in RTÉ over the last year, and when we consider the successful, varied and lucrative careers of people like the 2 Jonnies outside of RTÉ, it is totally fair to ask if the new restrictions and the new structures around presenters and their commercial activities, is having a huge effect on these presenters and their future plans?

Is 2FM facing a new reality now? We were used to seeing RTÉ creating the stars and household names, but in a media landscape where traditional, linear broadcasting is fighting for continuing dominance, can broadcasters like 2FM really call the shots anymore?

We can only wait and ‘hear’ what’s next on the RTÉ 2FM airwaves.


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