RTÉ Radio 1

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RTÉ Radio 1
RTÉ Radio 1.svg
Broadcast areaRepublic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
Worldwide (mainly the United Kingdom on satellite)
Frequency88.2–90.0, (87.8 in Northern Ireland) MHz FM
and 252 kHz LW
Digital terrestrial television
SloganWe've got the nation talking
FormatMixed network
OwnerRaidió Teilifís Éireann
RTÉ 2fm
RTÉ lyric fm
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta
RTÉ Pulse
RTÉ Jr Radio
RTÉ Chill
RTÉ Gold
RTÉ Radio 1 Extra
First air date
1 January 1926 (1 January 1926)

RTÉ Radio 1 (Irish: RTÉ Raidió 1) is the principal radio channel of Irish public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann and is the direct descendant of Dublin radio station 2RN, which began broadcasting on a regular basis on 1 January 1926. The station is a rare modern example of a mixed radio channel, offering a wide spectrum of programming which is mainly speech-based but also includes a fair amount of music.

The total budget for the station in 2010 was €18.4 million.[1] It is the most-listened-to radio station in Ireland.[2]


The Department of Posts and Telegraphs opened 2RN, the first Irish radio station, on 1 January 1926.[3] Station 6CK, a Cork relay of 2RN, joined the Dublin station in 1927,[4] and a high-power transmitter at Athlone in County Westmeath opened in 1932.[5] From the latter date the three stations became known as Radio Athlone, later being renamed Radio Éireann ("Irish Radio"/"Radio of Ireland") in 1937. Like most small European national stations at that time, Radio Éireann attempted to satisfy all tastes on a single channel. It broadcast a mixed schedule of light entertainment and heavier fare, Irish language programming, and talks. Radio Éireann also carried sponsored programmes, often produced by Leonard Plugge's International Broadcasting Company, which tended to be more popular than programming made directly by Radio Éireann itself.

Run as part of the civil service until 1960, the Broadcasting Authority Act 1960 transferred the station to a statutory corporation, also called Radio Éireann, in preparation for the launch of its sister television station.[6] The name of the corporation was changed to Radio Telefís Éireann in 1966. As a consequence, the station was renamed RTÉ Radio. The station also began FM transmission in 1966. In 1971 the station began the phased move from the GPO on O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre, to a new purpose-built Radio Centre at Donnybrook. When, in 1979, RTÉ established a new rock and pop station under the name of RTÉ Radio 2 (now RTÉ 2fm), the original RTÉ Radio channel was renamed once again and became RTÉ Radio 1.

In 1973, The Gay Byrne Hour began, becoming The Gay Byrne Show in 1979.[7] This anchored the station's daily morning schedule until 1998. On 3 November 1984, current affairs programmes Morning Ireland and Today at Five began broadcasting.[8] The former is now the flagship programme of RTÉ News and Current Affairs on radio while the latter has evolved into the current Drivetime programme via Five Seven Live.


RTÉ Radio 1 is currently available in Ireland on 88-90 MHz FM and 252 kHz longwave (LW). The LW version of Radio 1, which can also be received across the United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe, is also the only RTÉ Radio service available in parts of Northern Ireland since the closure of Medium Wave.

DAB broadcasts of the station began in the east of the country (from the Clermont Carn and Three Rock Mountain high power transmitters via the RTÉ DAB Multiplex) on 1 January 2006. RTÉ DAB is available on the Saorview platform. Listeners to WRN's English Service for Europe and English Service for North America can also hear a selection of RTÉ Radio 1 programmes. RTÉ Radio 1 has been carried on shortwave in DRM during specific events, including the All Ireland finals. RTÉ carried out DRM tests on its Long Wave frequency 252 kHz.

The station's tuning signal since 1936 has been the air O'Donnell Abú,[9] although since the advent of 24-hour broadcasting in 1997, the tune has been played only as a prelude to the start of the day's live broadcasting at 5.30 on weekday mornings.

The station broadcasts weekdays from 5:30am - 3am and weekends from 6am - 2am. Overnights Radio 1 relays the output of the digital 'classic hits' channel RTÉ Gold.

Longwave 252[edit]

The LW version of Radio 1 which commenced in 2004, which can also be received across the United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe – and is transmitted on the 252 kHz frequency formerly used by the Atlantic 252 radio station – differs in certain respects from that broadcast on FM, particularly at the weekend, with significant additional sports coverage and religious programming. The LW service was due to be withdrawn on Monday 27 October 2014 on cost grounds.[10] However, RTÉ subsequently announced that it had postponed the closure until 19 January 2015 "in order to ensure that listeners, particularly in the UK, have sufficient time to understand and avail themselves of alternatives".[11] As a result of further public pressure, especially from elderly Irish listeners in Britain, churches, the GAA, emigrant groups, and listeners in Northern Ireland who wouldn't all have access to RTÉ on FM or DAB, it was announced in December 2014 that the 252 frequency would be kept going until 2017 at least,[12] and in March 2017 that transmission on longwave would continue until June 2019.[13] Transmission of RTÉ Radio 1 resumed on 252 longwave in October 2019.[14]

RTÉ currently operates 252 Longwave at a markedly lower power level than its ITU licensed 500 kilowatts: in the daytime it radiates at 150 kW and at night 60 kW. This reduction in power means that interference from the French-language station Alger Chaîne 3 – broadcasting on the same frequency from Tipaza with a daytime power of 1500 kW and 750 kW at night – is considerable, and particularly affects reception of RTÉ Radio 1 on longwave on the south coast of Ireland after dark.[15]

Closure of medium-wave frequencies[edit]

The medium-wave transmitters of RTÉ Radio 1 were shut down at 15.00 on 24 March 2008. The main transmitter was based at Tullamore and broadcast on 567 kHz. A lower–powered relay in Cork at 729 kHz was also in service. Before 1975, the 612 kHz service (then 611 kHz) originated from Athlone on 490meters[16] AM transmissions continue on Long Wave 252 kHz from Summerhill, Co. Meath, it is aimed to serve Irish people living in Britain and uses the old Atlantic 252 transmitter. In 2007 a new telefunken tram 300 kW transmitter was installed which is capable of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) broadcasts which can transmit up to 7 services in near fm quality but consumer receivers are not being manufactured. The power can be remotely regulated on this transistor based transmitter. The 2 original 1989 transmitters were made by continental electronics each 300 kW and were tube based.Because there's only one 300 kW transmitter now the maximum possible power is 300 kW even though the site is licensed for 500 kW 24hrs. Since the closure, Second Helpings programmes at the weekend have been limited to digital broadcasts only. Most complaints about the closure of medium wave were from groups such as fishermen and the elderly,[17] also from people who didn't have the Long Wave band on their radios.

Part of the rationale behind closing medium wave, and using long wave to access listeners in hard to reach parts of Ireland and the UK, was that reception would be better in places such as the south of England and London areas which in the past had very poor coverage from RTÉ on medium wave.


The FM service is also available online and from the Astra 2E satellite at 28.2° East on transponder 7 (11.914 GHz horizontal, symbol rate 27500, FEC 5/6, service ID 5544), Freesat channel 750, Sky channel 0160 and Virgin Media channel 917.


Note: Highlighted programmes play music at some point or throughout the entire duration.


Time Show Presenter(s)
05.30–07.00 Rising Time Shay Byrne
07.00–09.00 Morning Ireland Rachael English, Gavin Jennings, Audrey Carville and Áine Lawlor Mary Wilson
09.00–10.00 Ryan Tubridy Ryan Tubridy
10.00–12.00 Today with Claire Byrne Claire Byrne
12.00–13.00 The Ronan Collins Show Ronan Collins
13.00–13.45 News at One Bryan Dobson
13.45–15.00 Liveline Joe Duffy
15.00–16.30 The Ray D'Arcy Show Ray D'Arcy
16.30–18.30 Drivetime Sarah McInerney and Cormac Ó’hÉadhra
19.00–20.00 Arena Seán Rocks
20.00–22.00 The John Creedon Show John Creedon
22.00–23.00 The Classic Rock Hour with John Kenny John Kenny
23.00–02.00 Late Date Cathal Murray
02.00–03.00 RTÉ Radio 1 Replay


Time Show Presenter(s)
06.00–08.00 Rising Time Lilian Smith
08.00–09.00 Countrywide Damien O'Reilly
09.00–10.00 Playback Sinéad Mooney
10.00–11.00 The Business Richard Curran
11.00–13.00 The Brendan O'Connor Show Brendan O'Connor
13.00–14.00 Saturday with Katie Hannon Katie Hannon
14.00–15.00 Documentary on One
15.00–19.00 RTE Gold Will Leahy
19.00–20.00 Saturday Sounds
20.00–21.00 An Scoth
21.00–22.00 Céilí House Kieran Hanrahan
22.00–23.00 South Wind Blows Philip King
23.00–00.00 Country Time
00.00–02.00 Late Date Fiachna O Braonain


Time Show Presenter(s)
06.00–08.00 Rising Time Lilian Smith
08.00–08.30 World Report John Burke and Colm O'Mongáin
08.30–09.00 Bowman Sunday John Bowman
09.00–10.00 Sunday Miscellany
10.00–11.00 Sunday with Miriam Miriam O'Callaghan
11.00–13.00 The Brendan O'Connor Show Brendan O'Connor
13.00–14.00 This Week Carole Coleman and Justin McCarthy
14.00–18.00 Sunday Sport
18.00–19.00 The History Show Myles Dungan
19.00–20.00 Documentary on One
20.00–21.00 Drama on One
21.00–22.00 The Rolling Wave Aoife Nic Cormaic
22.00–23.00 Simply Folk Ruth Smith
23.00–02.00 Late Date Cathal Murray


  1. ^ "Written Answers - Television Licence Fee". Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 740, No. 1, pp. 32. Oireachtas. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. ^ Cullen, Paul. "RTE Radio 1 'most listened to'". The Irish Times. Thursday, 11 February 2010, 18:31.
  3. ^ "2RN and the Origins of Irish Radio". Four Courts Press. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  4. ^ "Irish Public Service Broadcasting – 1920s". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Irish Public Service Broadcasting – 1930s". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  6. ^ "Broadcasting Authority Act, 1960". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  7. ^ "Irish Public Service Broadcasting – 1970s". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  8. ^ "History of Irish Public Service Broadcasting – Timeline". RTÉ Libraries and Archives. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  9. ^ "'O'Donnell Abú' Becomes 2RN Station Identification Signal 1936". RTÉ Archives.
  10. ^ Press release: RTÉ Radio 1 Moves from Longwave Transmission
  11. ^ BBC News: "RTÉ defers closure of long wave radio service", 15 October 2014
  12. ^ The RTÉ longwave service is to be extended until at least 2017. www.rte.ie, 19 December 2014
  13. ^ Lonergan, Aidan (10 March 2017). "RTÉ Longwave 252 to stay until closure by June 2019 – with digital replacement planned". The Irish Post.
  14. ^ Martin, Roy (21 October 2019). "RTÉ Radio 1 returns to 252 longwave after maintenance work". radiotoday.ie. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  15. ^ Eircom net page
  16. ^ Linton, Andy. "Athlone transmitting station". Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  17. ^ O'Kane, Enda (20 February 2008). "Is RTE Medium Wave cessation premature?". europeanirish.com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010.

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