Limerick radio presenter Will Leahy planning to brew up digital storm on RTE Gold

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Will Leahy pictured at Lyric’s studios in Limerick, where he will broadcast his new show Picture: Adrian Butler

Will Leahy pictured at Lyric’s studios in Limerick, where he will broadcast his new show Picture: Adrian Butler

WILL Leahy is planning a big digital splash for his very first breakfast show on RTE Gold this coming Monday.

The Limerick presenter, moving from 2FM after 21 years with the station, will welcome The Stunning for a live broadcast online to try and capture a new audience for the golden-oldie focused digital station.

“The key to this is we have to start thinking unlike any radio station in the past,” Will said in an interview with the Limerick Leader this week ahead of the launch.

“As this is a digital only station, everything needs to be geared towards getting people to press a button on their phone. Anyone that has a digital radio or DAB knows about it already, we are trying to attract people that are not very technically aware, but have a smartphone.”

The best way he can see to do that, aided by his fellow Limerick man JJ Hartigan, broadcast co-ordinator and head of social media with 2FM and RTE Gold, is to host a Facebook Live video event in studio, promoted across all of RTE’s Facebook pages, “a novel idea and it may end up being the biggest Facebook event ever held in Ireland”.

“RTE Gold’s page will host it, all the others will share it. This is the theory now - it has never been done before, so we will see how it goes. We will have three cameras, lighting, the whole lot, so it should be a really nice thing. People can watch it live or watch it back,” he added.

The radio presenter used Facebook to reveal recently that he was leaving 2FM after “21 years, 2000-ish shows, 45,000-ish songs and one fairly worn pair of headphones”.

In an ‘emotional’ announcement, the DJ – also a successful solicitor – said he was “shifting full-time to RTE Gold” to present a daily breakfast show on the digital station.

Will, who lives in Cratloe, wrote that he always saw 2FM as “the equivalent of playing for Man United; it was a dream come true”.

He said this week that there was “no regrets” to be leaving 2FM - a move that had been in planning for nearly a year.

“No, not at all. Look, 21 years - I am the fifth longest serving presenter in the history of the station after Gerry Ryan, Larry Gogan, Dave Fanning and John Clarke - so I think that is not a bad record. I don’t have any regrets whatsoever,” he said.

“I love RTE Gold, so when the suggestion came along, and the fact that Rick O’Shea wanted to do it as well, I thought, ‘this really has something’.

“I still get to go into the same office, log into the same computer and talk into the same microphone. So I am still very much part and parcel of the furniture.

“And to be honest, I have great faith that something is going to happen with Gold - but it has to start somewhere. And there has been plenty of noise about it in the last couple of weeks, so if even half of the people who tell me are going to listen to it, listen to it, we will have a nice little audience.”

Digital is huge in the UK - nearly 50% of the radio listening audience, compared to 6% here - and it is clear that Will sees huge potential in the form, which RTE launched a decade ago. Persuading people to switch will be key, but he is offering lots of music, no ads, basic news, lots of laughs and a “retro feel” on the show, which will air from 7am to 10am, Monday to Friday.

“It is going to be very retro,” he laughed.

“We will be doing bits from newspapers, which most stations don’t do any more; we will be making the most out of very little resources, but it will be very old fashioned, lots of little silly skits and jokes and stuff like that.

“If you listen to a breakfast show and take out the long news, the ads, the traffic news and the competitions - that is probably 20 minutes, if not more. That is third of the hour. So we are going to have all that just be music. This is the theory. It is the Ryanair approach to radio,” laughed Will.

“If you put content on, people will look for it. And you have to have it first, so we will see where we are in a year’s time.”