LONG serving 2fm presenter Will Leahy is “sad but not angry” at the demise of his drive time show, which looks set to bring to an end 34 years of the RTE station broadcasting from Limerick.
Leahy, a solicitor by day, was informed before Christmas of the decision to move him from his More Music Drive slot, broadcast Monday to Friday from RTE’s studios in Limerick, to a weekend show, but has professed his amazement at the public reaction to the move, with the presenter receiving over 12,000 personal messages of support from fans.
The reshuffle - held as “not a demotion” by 2fm - is part of boss Dan Healy’s attempts to overhaul the station in order to boost listenership figures.
“We didn’t realise the impact of the show until it was taken off the air,” said Will, in his first interview since he announced the news live on the show last week.
“I am sad and disappointed because it has become part of my routine. Clearly, I was even more sad when I saw the reaction - you don’t ever realise what you have until it is gone and we didn’t realise what we meant to people until it was announced that we were gone.
“I’m proud we managed to do it,” he added, referring to the seven years broadcasting the drive time show from Limerick in RTE’s regional studios.
Leahy, who lives in Cratloe with his wife and small child, was originally given the drive time slot seven years ago following the runaway success of the Saturday show he fronted.
He said at the time he “would gladly do it, if it was from Limerick”.
“It had never been done before in the history of the two main channels, that a daily programme had come from outside Dublin,” he said.
A spokeswoman for 2fm confirmed to the Leader that Leahy will now be broadcasting the new show, airing from 5-7pm on a Saturday and Sunday, from RTE in Dublin.
“We need the show to come from Dublin because it is a very big show and everybody else is here,” she said. “It is a cost saving measure by us, but because the show is so big and the new direction that we are going in, we just need everybody here, the support group is better here, and there is just so much (more) in terms of access to guests.”
The spokeswoman said she “didn’t think anyone has lost their job over the move”.
Finance minister Michael Noonan has indicated his “disappointment” at the decision by 2fm, which could yet have political repercussions.
Leahy sought to play down the row this week when contacted by the Leader.
“I would hope the Limerick representation would continue on 2fm, as it has done for the past 34 years. At the moment it is uncertain,” he said, noting that DJs Michael MacNamara and Lorcan Murray had broadcast from Limerick before him.
“I’m not bitter or angry, I am just sad for Limerick, disappointed for Limerick, but radio changes all the time and you never know what might happen in the future.”
A Facebook page that had over 15,000 ‘likes’ called Keep Will Leahy on Drivetime has apparently been taken down.