Like A Virgin
Ryan Tubridy opens a can of worms...
He’s the man who told the nation “Yes, the salary is enormous, but it doesn’t affect my soul”, I suspect with his new job, the salary will remain enormous, but the chance to reboot your career in a brand new country on a brand new station, is probably very good for the soul.
Ryan Tubridy, the man who briefly was Public Enemy No. 1 in Ireland this summer, has escaped the clutches of a vengeful RTE and like many an Irish person before him headed to London to start a new life.
He was announced as the new host of Virgin Radio UK’s 10am – 1pm slot on Thursday and he’s due to start in January.
The London Life
To give a little context, I too have headed to London for a new job, in fact, I spent three years working in London, first as Content Director for Bauer’s Magic Radio, launching it as a national DAB brand and then working as Launch Director and Content Director for Wireless Group’s Virgin Radio UK.
So, I put together the first schedule for the DAB version of Virgin Radio and I launched it live from a moving train. It’s probably safe to say that I have at least some background knowledge on what Ryan is facing and what the opportunity is.
When I first put together the schedule, I had in mind that the 10am – 1pm slot could perhaps become something that didn’t really exist in the UK radio landscape, an Irish style mid-morning show, with chat, guests and a bit of mayhem, very much modelled on the legendary Gerry Ryan.
The Gerry Ryan Slot
Jamie East was the host of the mid-morning slot and I used to produce the show myself, and I feel we lived up to the promise and got good numbers in that timeslot. It was fun and entertaining and the audience seemed to like it.
I think part of what Virgin might be hoping for from Ryan is something of that spirit. I know Chris Evans is a long time fan of Gerry Ryan and a Ryan Tubridy freed of the shackles of RTE might well provide entertaining and engaging radio when he has space and a new challenge in front of him.
So far so good.
Opening that Can of Worms
However, there’s a twist in the tail, that might sound good on paper, but probably opens several cans of worms.
News UK, who own the Wireless group, including Virgin Radio, Times Radio, Talksport and 5 local stations in Ireland, have decided that Ryan’s new show should also air in Ireland.
They’ve described in the press release that it will be simultaneously broadcast on local Dublin station Q102. That’s an unprecedented move, disguised by the fact that it’s Ryan and he’s Irish. There’s also intended to be a “dedicated Irish weekend show” which will air on the Wireless local stations, that reminds me a lot of the famous Terry Wogan show on Century Radio…
However, If you remove Ryan’s name from the picture and I told you that a UK radio group are now about to open a fader in Dublin and play the same output that they play in the UK, I think it might feel quite different.
Questions, Many Questions
For starters, let’s ask the question about regulation. Is this a UK show, regulated by Ofcom and fully compliant with Ofcom’s rules? And if so, what about the Media Commission in Ireland, what role will they have in regulating this show?
Is the editorial for the show being created in the UK and then delivered to Ireland as broadcast? Is this a syndicated show? Or is it networked output from the UK?
How will competitions work? Will all the callers and guest be from the UK? Will there be any Irish input?
That’s just the start of the questions. More seriously, when and how was this approved by the Irish regulator? What are the implications if say for example Bauer Media Ireland decided that they could put Ken Bruce out on 98FM or Today FM tomorrow, between 10am and 1pm. Why or how would they not now be allowed to do that?
Have Wireless Ireland received full permission from the Media Commission to do this? What are the grounds for it? Is there an economic case? Will the presenter currently on that time slot lose their job?
What’s the Next step?
In terms of other News UK / Wireless output, how long will it be before FM104 and Cork’s 96FM are taking Talksport’s live commentary games on Saturdays and Sundays?
I’m very happy for Ryan, but I’m absolutely amazed that Wireless Ireland and News UK are intending to introduce syndicated UK shows into the Irish market in this fashion and I can’t see how the Irish broadcasting industry could or should support it.
Licences are a precious resource, adding more networking or syndication, particularly in this case, from an entirely separate country doesn’t seem to me to be fulfilling a station’s promise of performance or the spirit of what radio in Ireland is supposed to be.
For clarity, I’m currently the Programme Director for Ireland’s Classic Hits Radio, which is of course in competition with Wireless stations, and during the summer, my station was also linked to a possible move for Ryan Tubridy. None of that changes my view on this matter though.
I have no real concern that Ryan’s Virgin Radio UK show broadcast on Q102 will impact my station’s listenership figures, what I am concerned about is the precedent this sets without any discussion.
I’ll finish with this, a work of genius by Michael Fry, inspired by the events of Tubridy vs RTE this summer…
This has been the 22nd official edition of the RAudio Newsletter
Just to recap, each week I’ll be taking a look at big stories in radio, podcasting and audio.
Any feedback, questions or potential topics are welcome – you can get me on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/liamthompsonconsulting/ or on Twitter @Maxliam