The biggest job in Irish broadcasting – the successor to Pat Kenny – is to go to Sean O’Rourke, RTE announced on Saturday.

O’ Rourke, 54, presenter of RTÉ Radio 1’s News at One programme, is to replace Kenny as the presenter of the station’s mid-morning programme, Today. O’Rourke will step into the Today slot on September 2.

O’Rourke said today: “It’s 40 years ago next month since I began a lifelong love affair with journalism and I can honestly say I am as excited about this move as I was the first day I climbed the stairs in the Connacht Tribune in September 1973.

“I love radio and I love news. Friends and colleagues however will know me as a huge sports fan and an avid reader.

“Not only will we break news, drive the debate and analyse the stories of the day, we’ll be getting stuck into much more than that. I hope people will come for the news and stay for the craic.”

O’Rourke is recognised in RTE as a safe pair of hands and the graduate from National University of Ireland, Galway, has been with the station for 24 years.

He has been the presenter of News at One since January 1995 and of The Week in Politics, which airs every Sunday night.

He was recently named News Broadcaster of the Year for the third year in a row.

His earlier career included periods with the Connacht Tribune as a reporter, The Sunday Press as sports journalist and feature writer, and The Irish Press as Political Correspondent.

O’Rourke’s appointment will put him in direct conflict with Pat Kenny who moves to a mid-morning show on independent national radio station, Newstalk.

Kenny takes over a slot which had a maximum 55,000 listeners and Newstalk, which hired him for more than $500,000 a year, is relying on him to bring more than half his 328,000 RTE listeners with him.