Big-name radio stars switch off for holiday break
Some of the biggest radio stars in the country have taken a well-deserved break from the airwaves for Christmas week, even though RTE is facing up to €20m in projected losses for 2016.
2fm big hitters Nicky Byrne, the Breakfast Republic team and Tracey Clifford have been given time off over the holidays, despite being some of the station's biggest audience pullers.
The main radio slots have been taken over by lesser-known presenters including Lottie Ryan and Stephen Byrne.
Nicky Byrne, Jennifer Zamparelli and her co-hosts Bernard O'Shea and Keith Walsh, along with Clifford, will not be back on the air until January 3.
"Obviously, the broadcaster is very aware some of the presenters have children and they are entitled to time off over Christmas," said a source.
"It's only a week off, and Dave Fanning was in on Radio 1 on Tuesday morning, so he's hardly a lesser name.
"Joe Duffy was on air as usual on Radio 1 up until Christmas Eve and Breakfast Republic was on air right up until December 23, as was Ray D'Arcy.
"The longer slots give the other presenters who aren't so well-known a chance to show off their talents."
An RTE spokeswoman said: "All high-profile presenters were on air over the Christmas period, with some on air up to Christmas Eve.
"Presenters are contracted for an agreed number of programmes and have taken agreed leave over the holiday period.
"This is an opportunity for broadcasters such as Lottie Ryan and Stephen Byrne to showcase their talent."
On Radio 1, radio's highest-earning star, Ryan Tubridy, showed up for his December 23 show before taking time out until yesterday.
Breakfast Republic host Zamparelli was using her time off to peaceful effect.
She tweeted a photo of a tree that looked a little ravaged by stormy weather on her Twitter feed, and wrote simply: "A lovely tree."
Her co-host Keith Walsh also took to Twitter, tweeting: "Today I will be mostly..." alongside a photo of a turkey curry recipe.
Zamparelli made her name on RTE 2's Republic of Telly alongside O'Shea, who also appears with her on the channel's throwback 1970s comedy, Bridget & Eamon.