Colm Hayes believes RTE is no longer fit for purpose and is operating like it's 1980

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Colm Hayes believes RTE is no longer fit for purpose and is operating like it's 1980
Colm Hayes believes RTE is no longer fit for purpose and is operating like it's 1980

Colm Hayes has told how RTE is no longer fit for purpose and believes it’s operating with 1980’s principles and says the national broadcaster needs to adapt or die.

The Dubliner and Radio Nova programme director said it may be too little too late to save the sinking ship.

He said: “It’s getting tougher, advertising is harder, with Google and Facebook, the advertising pie is going down.

“You can see it, with what RTE is going through at the moment and Virgin Media letting people go, it’s a really tough business to get into and to make a living off at the moment.

“It’s tough, a lot of my friends in there from the Ryan Tubridys right down to the researchers and producers are suffering, I just think the model in RTE needs to be changed.

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“It’s operating in 1980 principles in 2019, they have to change to survive, as the saying goes you have to adapt or die.

“I don’t think they’re adapting enough, it seems as if it’s too little too late.”

The breakfast presenter worked for 2FM for more than a decade before jumping ship to Radio Nova in 2016.

He said: “I was getting a great salary in 2FM, the thing you have to realise is those stars don’t look for those salaries when they’re renegotiating those contracts, RTE offer those salaries.

“They have to be offered to you, they don’t go in and rob a bank, so where is the culture coming from.

“At one stage RTE thought it was OK to pay one of their stars close to a million to do a radio and TV show.

“That was RTE management who were willing to pay that money, the culture should have been thought about then and capped.

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“But RTE was always thinking, ‘Oh we could lose them to the BBC or whatever’ but that’s never really been the case.

“How many presenters at RTE have gone on to have huge careers in the BBC?

“The likes of Graham Norton came from comedy.

“I think in this business you should be putting some money away for a rainy day.

“You can pick the top five salary earners in RTE but for the others it’s a tough gig to survive in.”

Colm Hayes with friend Lucy Kennedy

The dad of two has had an illustrious career, originally presenting on the Radio Nova pirate station in 1981.

He added: “I’ve never been one to plot my career, the career plotted me. I never even decided to get into radio.

“In the original days with the big super pirates like Radio Nova it was like the movie The Ship That Rocked, we were paid great money, turning over millions a year paying our taxes.

“But the one thing we didn’t have was a broadcast licence.

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“So we went out every Friday celebrating the fact we weren’t closed down. It was heart-wrenching when we were shut down but I went on to present on the original Q102 and then weekends on 2FM, then I got lunchtime on the station directly after Gerry Ryan’s Show and that’s how we developed a friendship.

“I used to do some of the crazy voices on Gerry’s show and I wrote some of the scripts for him.

“I had moved off to FM104 and done the Strawberry Alarm Clock and RTE approached me to do the breakfast show, so I was back on 2FM and then Gerry was on after us, so we reforged our friendship.

“We used to talk a lot and go out for dinners and it’s still difficult to remember and deal with his death properly.”

Colm was in shock when his pal died suddenly in 2010.

He said: “My wife and I had flown to Spain directly after my show and it was only when we landed and turned on our phones and all of these messages were coming in that your friend has died.”

The 57-year-old told how Gerry liked to push the boat out and how nobody will ever replace him.

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He added: “Gerry was the sort of broadcaster who didn’t accept every answer to every question, so he’d re-question what we’re doing and it was that that made him.

“He wouldn’t roll over and give into authority of what the expected norms were. He brought his listeners with him.”

After the success of The Strawberry Alarm Clock, the No1 breakfast show in Dublin presented by Colm and Jim- Jim Nugent for over a decade, the star was to face a tough blow and told how he was “escorted from the premises” of FM104.

Love / Hate actors Peter Coonan (Fran) and Laurence Kinlan (Elmo) co-present DriveBy with Colm Hayes on RTÉ 2fm

He said: “I think they thought I’d never leave, there was an issue with my contract.

“I was just looking for an extra day’s holiday and they wouldn’t give it to me, I stood by my ground.

“I was without a contract for a couple of months and they never thought anyone would come looking for me because I was so FM104.

“2FM heard I was out of contract and rang me and we started negotiating for me to move across and then we worked on getting Jim-Jim over too.

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“When FM104 asked me to sign a contract, I said no, I was moving to another station and they got into a panic.

“When they found out it was 2FM, they told me to pack a box and watched me making sure I wouldn’t take anything.

“Then they hit me with an affidavit, saying they were going to come and search my house for tapes or mini discs or anything I had. They said they had the right to search my house for documents, so I wrote back to them saying that’s great, make sure it is 3pm because I’ve notified the press that you’re coming, so they never arrived.”

Colm added that finding Lucy Kennedy who he now co-presents the breakfast show with on Radio Nova, was a lucky twist of fate.

He said: “The story about me and Lucy is great but it came out of adversity, when Gerry died they came to me and asked me to step in for a number of weeks and do his show. I said I will but I’m not doing it on my own, I didn’t want to be compared to Gerry as I’ll never be as good as Gerry and I’m a different sort of broadcaster so that’s wrong.

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“They gave me a list with about eight ideas, I said preferably a female, the last name was Lucy Kennedy and I said yes.

“We got a lot of criticism in the press, people saying they’ll never be Gerry Ryan but we didn’t want to be. But we became really good mates and we always stayed close and said one day, we’d work again.

“So when I took over as programme director at Nova and was about to present the breakfast show too, I told the board I wanted to get Lucy to present with me and they all fell off their chairs laughing, saying there’s no way you’ll get her she’s a huge TV star.

“We’re genuinely best friends and that’s why our show works.”

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Source: Celebrity News Ireland