RTÉ 2fm, or 2FM as it is more commonly referred to, is Raidió Teilifís Éireann's second national radio station. It broadcasts popular music programming aimed at a young Irish audience.
The station commenced broadcasting in 1979 and has undergone numerous name changes and line-up switches throughout its history. During the 2000s, Ian Dempsey and Tony Fenton opted for moves to rival radio station Today FM, whilst 2FM has in turn raided Phantom FM for Cormac Battle, Jenny Huston and Dan Hegarty, with recent additions Colm & Jim-Jim being poached from FM104. Old stalwarts such as Dave Fanning and Larry Gogan were moved to the weekend to make way for the likes of Rick O'Shea and Nikki Hayes, though Hayes was eventually moved off to the weekend herself and Gogan back to weekdays. As part of the expansion of RTÉ's young people's music radio output, an all-music (mostly of the rock genre) sister station of 2FM, RTÉ 2XM, designed for students and young adults, now operates on the RTÉ DAB Multiplex.
The station is recognised as being the first in the world to play any new single released by U2, due to the band's long-term friendship with Dave Fanning. They celebrated their thirty-year association with each other in September 2009 with the airing of a special weekend of programmes, including U2's Top 30 Moments.
In 2008, the station captured 17% of the national audience, the second most popular station in Ireland after RTÉ Radio 1 (23%). According to The Irish Times, the 09:00 AM - 12:00 midday slot is "the most critical in the 2fm schedule both in terms of audience figures and advertising revenue". This was presented by Gerry Ryan from 1988 until his sudden death on 30 April 2010. The Gerry Ryan Show was the longest running show in the station's history.
Radio 2 (1979 - 1988):
RTÉ Radio 2, as it was originally known, began broadcasting on 31 May 1979. "Like Clockwork" by the Boomtown Rats was the first song on air, played by Larry Gogan. It was developed as a response by RTÉ to the pirate radio craze sweeping Dublin and the rest of the country. Its original slogan was "Radio 2 Comin'atcha" and, as well as broadcasting popular music, it carried a number of other musical strands as well as news and current affairs. Its original broadcast frequencies were 612 kHz MW (until 2004) and 90-92 MHz FM. Original DJs included some like Larry Gogan, Vincent Hanley and Jimmy Greeley who transferred from RTÉ Radio 1 and Mark Cagney who transferred from RTE Cork Local Radio. Most of the remaining deejays were recruited directly from the pirate stations, such as Michael McNamara, Declan Meehan, Ronan Collins, Gerry Ryan and Dave Fanning.
2FM (1988 - 1999):
In 1988 after many years presenting a nightly music show called Lights out for around 6 years previously The Gerry Ryan Show, a morning topical radio show, began broadcasts. Not long afterwards, RTÉ began radical changes to Radio 2's format. Most non-pop music programming was dropped. The station was rebranded as "2FM" in 1988. At this stage the basic schedule for the next decade or so was put in place: Ian Dempsey, Gerry Ryan, Larry Gogan, Gareth O'Callaghan, Tony Fenton,Barry Lang and Dave Fanning were staples of this period. Many of these presenters have stayed with 2FM over the years while others have moved to competing stations. "RTÉ Radio 2"
2FM in this era was at its most popular. Its mobile broadcasting unit, the roadcaster, made regular trips nationwide, with 2FM organising live events throughout Ireland, such as the "Beat on the Street" with M.C electric eddie (Doug Murray) introducing the stations DJ's to the vast crowds which gathered at events throughout Ireland and "Lark in the Park". New bands would often get their "big break" by being featured on the Dave Fanning Show. Gerry Ryan's radio show became a national institution.
RTÉ 2fm (2000 - present):
However by 2000, this schedule was looking very stale. In addition, 2FM suffered the high profile departure of Ian Dempsey to the newly established commercial national radio station Today FM. Both Today FM and the emerging independent local radio sector had eroded 2FM's once unassailable listenership base. Today FM continues to sign up disillusioned 2FM staff, with Tony Fenton being the most recent departure, in September 2004.
In 1998, after 18 years with the station, drivetime presenter Barry Lang left to become an airline pilot, in the Middle East. In 1999, veteran producer and disc jockey John Clarke was made Head of 2FM. Unlike the previous people in that position, John had worked has way through a number of pirate stations before joining RTE in the late eighties. He rebranded 2FM with a new blue and red logo (as "RTÉ 2fm") and re-arranged the schedule. During this period (Late 90s/Early 00s) long serving station names such as Andy Ruane, Lorcan Murray, Michael McNamara, Mike Ryan, Suzanne Duffy, Peter Collins, Bob Conway, Simon Young and Gerry Wison disappeared from the schedule. In 2003, Ryan Tubridy was poached from RTÉ Radio 1 to present The Full Irish breakfast programme; however in 2005 he returned to Radio 1, heralding an era of instability in breakfast broadcasting as first Ruth Scott and Rick O'Shea took charge of The Rick and Ruth Breakfast Show, before being replaced 5 months later by Marty Whelan in September 2005. Whelan has since been ousted as part of the March 2007 revamp to make way for The Colm & Jim-Jim Breakfast Show as 2fm engaged in a spot of poaching for once in persuading Colm Hayes and Jim-Jim Nugent to leave FM104. DJ Mark McCabe and John Power arrived to present dance music shows at weekends. Later, more changes saw Larry Gogan being moved from his lunchtime slot to "drive time". A news programme, Newsbeat, was added to the schedules in response to criticisms that RTÉ 2fm was not fulfilling its remit as a public service broadcaster. Newer alternative DJs such as the "Phantom 3", Canadian Jenny Huston, Dan Hegarty and Kerbdog front-man Cormac Battle have also joined the line-up in recent years. Also joi-ning are the aforementioned Colm & Jim-Jim as well as the Irishwoman Jennifer Greene.
On 12 January 2007 RTÉ announced a major revamp of 2fm, with the axing of Marty Whelan's breakfast show and Larry Gogan's move to the weekend two of the main changes. The presenters of FM104's The Strawberry Alarm Clock moved to the station; as FM104 continues to broadcast its breakfast show under the latter title, the 2fm version is known as the Colm and Jim-Jim Breakfast Show (initially referred to in pre-publicity as the 2fm Alarm Clock, however the name was changed after FM104 threathened legal action). During this 2007 revamp Will Leahy formerly of the Saturday Show was promoted to the weekday Drivetime slot, which he broadcasts from his base at the RTÉ Limerick studios on the fifth floor of the Cornmarket. The new schedule launched on 5 March 2007. 2fm DJs Nikki Hayes and Rick O'Shea have since been the subject of criticism for the idle chatter they fill their shows with and from January 2009 have been ordered by their management to play more music.
RTÉ 2fm, like RTÉ Radio 1, technically broadcasts 24 hours a day, however weekday programming from 01:00 until 05:00 is replays of programmes from the previous day along with live news updates on the hour, and weekend overnight hours have been home to specialist music recorded shows since 2001. The station regularly broadcasts live from large Irish music festivals, such as Oxegen, Electric Picnic and Life Festival, and latterly has broadcast live music under the title 2fm XtrAlive (formerly 2fm Live), with the most recorded visiting act being Manic Street Preachers. The series of shows entitled the 2fm 2moro 2our maintained the station's reputation for homegrown live performance promotion as well as offering career boosts to artists such as The Immediate, The Flaws, Ham Sandwich, Concerto For Constantine and David Geraghty.
John Clarke resigned unexpectedly his position as Head of RTÉ 2fm on 14 August 2009. Four days later, and after spending some time presenting on RTÉ Radio 1, it was announced that Dave Fanning would be returning to RTÉ 2fm to present his evening weekday show in his old 19:00 slot. The return of Fanning followed the failure by RTÉ 2fm in its attempts to target teenagers. Clarke was replaced by John McMahon the following month. There was comment within the Irish media when, despite electing to target a middle-aged audience, the radio station opted in September 2009 not to playlist David Gray, an English singer-songwriter who is popular with that age group in Ireland. Gray's music is played on Today FM and other stations. In spite of this arrangement, Gray has since turned up on Celebity Sunday, a program featuring celebrities and which, when it featured Nicky Byrne from Westlife, became Twitter's third favourite trending topic. McMahon began his reign by bringing in several schedule changes from early 2010, new additions to the station included the arrivals of Hector Ó hEochagáin and Tommy Tiernan live from Galway, and 'Celebrity Sunday' including Louis Walsh, Neil Hannon, Thomas Walsh, Mike Scott and Nicky Byrne.
Digital sister stations:
The launch of digital radio into Ireland has allowed RTÉ to expand their music radio operation. Whereas 2fm has to play a mix of genres and eras of pop, the digital stations can play a wider range of music and focus more tightly on a particular format. RTÉ operates three music-led digital stations, which could be described as sister stations to 2fm:
RTÉ 2XM, a station playing new and alternative music;
RTÉ Gold, a station playing solely golden oldies; and
RTÉ Pulse, a station playing dance and electronic music.
There is also a chill out music service, RTÉ Chill, which shares a broadcast slot with children station RTÉ Junior.