Women on the radio

A few days ago I wrote this piece in the Irish Independent about the lack of female presenters on Irish radio. The head of RTE radio, Claire Duignan, contacted me about the piece to argue a few of the points raised – I’m reprinting her letter below (with her permission), in the interests of fairness and the right of reply.

(Incidentally, I replied to Claire myself that, to be devil’s advocate, the really important detail is that there are only three women presenters on some 10 Radio 1 shows from 7am to 10pm weekdays – the prime slots for radio – and none at all from 9am-4.30pm. I said two, should have been three. And also to be devil’s advocate, I still think the situation could be much better. There really should be a 50/50 split? People may decry enforced gender quotas and positive discrimination, but their arguments only stand if we lived in an equal society – we don’t – women always have to battle an ingrained negative discrimination. Finally, the piece was mostly about presenters, not reporters/contributors.)

Anyway, it was very decent of her to write such a detailed response – and this is what she had to say:



Dear Mr McManus

I am writing in response to your article in the Irish Independent (Friday 4 January 2013) entitled Radio Often Feels Like Last Bastion of Old Boys’ Club.

I always enjoy reading your reviews and your informed analysis of radio in Ireland. I do think however that your article underestimates the presence of female presenters on RTÉ Radio. While I cannot speak for other stations, RTÉ Radio features a significant amount of women on-air, in richly varied roles, working across our four FM services and six Digital Radio channels.

Your article refers to RTÉ Radio 1 having “only two women across more than 10 shows” on the air. This is a significant underestimation. Morning Ireland alone features two regular female presenters, Aine Lawlor and Rachael English, along with Deirdre Purcell, Fiona Kelly and Valerie Cox, who regularly presents the programme’s It Says in the Papers item. On Drivetime, Mary Wilson is the regular presenter, whilst Audrey Carville presents our political and current affairs programme, Late Debate. This is closely followed by music programme Late Date, regularly presented by Lillan Smith.  During our weekend schedule on RTÉ Radio 1, we have an abundance of female presenters including, but not limited to, Eileen Dunne (The God Slot), Marian Finucane (Marian Finucane Show), Marian Richardson (Playback), Miriam O’Callaghan (Miriam Meets) and Avril Hoare (This Week). It is also worth noting that Claire Byrne has presented her own weekend news and current affairs programme, Saturday with Claire Byrne, each Saturday between 1pm – 2pm since September last year. This is not to mention the host of female stand-in presenters (Kathryn Thomas, Edel Coffey…), reporters (Valerie Cox, Brenda Donohue, Della Kilroy…) and regular contributors (Olivia O’Leary, Éanna Ni Lamhna…) that RTÉ Radio 1 avails of.

It is also necessary to have a look across the schedules on all of RTÉ Radio’s services to get a true sense of the importance that RTÉ places on women’s contributions to public service broadcasting in all its forms. RTÉ 2fm, RTÉ lyric fm, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and indeed RTÉ Radio’s digital stations all employ a high volume of female presenters and contributors. I have attached a document detailing RTÉ Radio’s regular female presenters for your perusal.

You are not the first writer to shine a welcome light on this topic, and this is not the first time that I have written to journalists and newspapers on this topic.. I agree with you that we cannot underestimate the need for gender balance on our airwaves-indeed this is a theme to which I have returned many times during my career in broadcasting. In assessing whether or not that balance is achieved, it is important however to fairly reflect the role that women do play. RTÉ Radio is a proud leader when it comes to women on air, and I feel it is only fair to fully acknowledge the extent of representation of women on air across RTÉ Radio.

Kind regards,

Clare Duignan

Managing Director, RTÉ Radio



RTÉ Radio 1

Morning Ireland: Aine Lawlor, Rachael English, Deirdre Purcell (It Says in the Papers) – Mon – Fri 7am – 9am

The John Murray Show: Kathryn Thomas (Stand-in presenter) – Mon- Fri 9am – 10am

Today with Pat Kenny: Valerie Cox (Reporter) – Mon – Fri 10am – 12 midday

Mooney: Brenda Donohue (Reporter) – Mon – Fri 3pm – 4.30pm

Drivetime: Mary Wilson, Olivia O’Leary (Contributor) – Mon – Fri  4.30pm – 7.00pm

Arena: Edel Coffey (Stand-in presenter) – Mon – Fri 7.30pm – 8.30pm

The Late Debate: Audrey Carville – Tues – Thurs – 10pm – 11pm

Late Date: Lillian Smith – Mon – Fri – 11.25pm – 2.00am

The God Slot: Eileen Dunne Friday 10pm – 10.30pm

The Weekend on One: Grace Waller (Stand-in presenter) – Saturday – Sunday 6am – 8am

Playback: Marian Richardson – Saturday 9am – 10am

Marian Finucane: Marian Finucane – Sat & Sun 11am – 12 midday

Saturday with Claire Byrne: Claire Byrne  – Sat 1pm – 2pm

Countrytime: Sandy Harsch – Sat 11pm – 12 midnight

Miriam Meets: Miriam O’Callaghan – Sun 10am – 11am

Sunday Sport: Jacqui Hurley – Sun 2pm – 4pm

This Week: Avril Hoare – Sun 1pm – 2pm

RTÉ 2fm:

Weekend Breakfast with Louise McSharry: Louise McSharry – Saturday, Sunday 7am – 10am

Ballbusters: Fiona Looney – Saturday 12 midday – 2pm

Weekenders: Ruth Scott – Saturday, Sunday 2pm – 5pm

Jenny Greene’s Electric Disco: Jenny Greene – Fri & Sat 7pm – 10pm

RTÉ lyric fm

Liz Nolan’s Classic Drive: Liz Nolan – Mon – Fri 4pm – 7pm

Trish Taylor’s Daybreak: Trish Taylor, Saturdays, 7am – 10am

Movies & Musicals: Aedin Gormley – Saturdays, 1pm – 4pm

The Music Box: Trish Taylor – Sundays, 10am – 12pm

The Sunday Matinee: Aedin Gormley – Sundays, 12pm – 2pm

Trish Taylor’s Daybreak: Trish Taylor – Sat & Sun 6.30am – 9.30am

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta

Nead na Fuiseoige: Gráinne Ní Dhomhnaill – Mon – Fri 7am-8am

Adhmhaidin: Gormfhlaith Ní Thuairisg Mon – Fri 8am – 9am
Iris Aniar: Eibhlín Ní Chonghaile– Mon – Fri 9.10am – 11am

Barrscealta: Áine Ní Churráin – Mon – Fri 11am – 12 midday

An Saol O Dheas: Helen Ní Shé – Mon – Fri 12.10pm – 1pm

Nuacht a hAon: Máirín Ní Ghadhra – Mon – Fri 1pm – 2pm

Thall ‘s Abhus: Sinéad Ní Uallacháin Sat 10 am

An Ghealach Ghorm: Áine Hensey – Sat 9pm – midnight

Béal Maidine:  Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha, Áine Hensey – Sat & Sun 7am – 9am

Ceol Binn ó na Beanna: Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha – Mon, Wed & Thurs 7pm – 9pm

Blas: Louise McCreesh – Sun 9.30am – 10am

Spórt: Gearóidín Nic an Iomaire

Sruth na Maoile: Mairi Anna Nic Ualraig – Mon 2pm –3 pm

RTÉ Digital Radio

RTÉ 2XM: Aoife Barry, Caoimhseach Connolly, Jacqui Carroll, Louise Noone, Paula Flynn, Niamh Hegarty, Gabby Sanderson Ann-Marie Duffin and Annabelle Brossard

RTÉ Pulse: Orla Feeney, Aifric O Connell, Zoe Mc Grath, Hilary Rose, Ciara Buckley

RTÉ Junior: Emma Power, Audrey Donohue, Grainne Clear, Louise Denvir, Rhona Tarrant and Emma O’Driscoll


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