Sarah McInerney given primetime radio slot in RTÉ reshuffle


Mary Wilson and Áine Lawlor are moving to Morning Ireland and Bryan Dobson will helm the News At One in the new line-up

RTÉ unveiled a new female-focused line-up on Radio 1 for the rest of the year. It sees listener favourite Sarah McInerney take on Drivetime, with co-host Cormac O’hEadhra.

A Zoom launch of the new Autumn schedule at RTÉ yesterday included interviews with several RTÉ Radio presenters; Sarah and Cormac, Claire Byrne, and Bryan Dobson. Actor and writer Amy Huberman also spoke about series two of comedy Finding Joy. 

RTÉ Radio 1 reshuffle

Many listeners felt Sarah was doing a brilliant job on Today, but Sarah is excited to start her new show. 

“I’ve moved on, and my focus is now on the Drivetime show. It was lovely to see the support of the listeners obviously,” she says. 

“I think it is an opportunity to do something different. It is going to be a different sound with the two of us on. I have loved Cormac’s broadcasting having listened to him on the Late Debate and on Saturdays as well. We think very similarly when it comes to political interviews, and in general around broadcasting and how a show sounds. I think we will work very well together. 

No bad blood

There are suggestions that female presenters at the broadcaster are ‘pitted against each other’. McInerney explained that they are all supportive of each other as colleagues. Claire Byrne officially took on the presenting role at Today on RTÉ Radio 1 this week.

“I texted Claire on Monday to say best of luck, and she texted me when I started on the Today show back in May to say best of luck,” Sarah says. 

“We talk to each other, we like each other and we work well together. There is no war, there is no battle, and we’re not working against each other.” 

Claire Byrne echoed that sentiment when she joined the Zoom launch after coming off air from her new role on Today.

“Today is a great day, we have loads of women on air in RTÉ. Sarah McInerney is a great addition to the schedule,” Claire says. 

“I am as frustrated as anyone else would be [when women are pitted against each other]. Using the example of male colleagues of mine who have been announced and nobody ever says a word about who might have been filling in for them in the past. I don’t know why it happens with women, but it does.” 

New beginnings

Cormac O’hEadhra said he was looking forward to being paired with Sarah after her celebrated performance on Today, and batted away any suggestion that he could be intimidated by her popularity with listeners. 

“If you are to be intimidated by people, then this is not the business for you. I have interviewed ministers and prospective presidents and commissioners and people in high office, so you can’t be someone who gets intimidated easily, and you certainly shouldn’t be intimidated by a colleague. I am looking forward to working with Sarah, and actually, if someone was to be intimidated working with Sarah, isn’t it better to be sitting at the same side of the desk as her,” he says.  

“Our challenge will be to sit down and work out how to complement each other on the programme. We want the programme to be probing, to look at the serious issues, but we want it to feel like people are listening to friends as well. We want to cultivate discussion.” 

The new role will have Sarah competing against her old show on Newstalk. 

“It’s interesting, it will be Kieran Cuddihy, I would have worked with him on Breakfast in Newstalk, so it will be interesting, I haven’t texted him yet,” she laughs. 

She said she had been in touch with Seán O’Rourke in recent days to wish him well, but refused to discuss whether he should have appeared on Today following the #golfgate revelations. 

“That was a decision for Seán, I can’t really comment on whether he should or shouldn’t have come on the show.”