Where did all the good ra­dio shows go?

Eilis O’han­lon

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - GUIDE -

COR­MAC O headhra is an enigma. Fronting RTE Ra­dio One’s po­lit­i­cal panel show, Late De­bate, he’s as fe­ro­cious as a ter­rier that’s sunk its teeth into the legs of a post­man, as he nips away at the self-con­grat­u­la­tory waf­fle of guests. As a stand-in pre­sen­ter on To­day With Sean O’ROurke over the sum­mer, he was much more sub­dued, re­strained.

It could sim­ply be that he’d de­cided he was just a vis­i­tor there, and ought to be on his best be­hav­iour, or even that a dif­fer­ent tech­nique is needed dur­ing day­light. It was less ef­fec­tive, but still head and shoul­ders above many big­ger names. As such, there should be no hes­i­ta­tion in sin­gling him out as one of the broad­cast­ers of the year.

Con­sid­er­ing the most missed broad­cast­ers of the year opens up a wealth of choice, all from New­stalk. There’s Ge­orge Hook, ob­vi­ously, who placed his ca­reer on ice over a lunchtime High Noon show with one sin­gle, shock­ingly thought­less re­mark back in Septem­ber about the vic­tim of an al­leged rape who was in the news at the time. The air­waves are, with­out ques­tion, poorer in his ab­sence. Col­leagues across the sched­ule have had their warn­ing, and are tread­ing much more care­fully. Po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is now king. It makes for duller ra­dio, but they can hardly be blamed for not throw­ing cau­tion to the wind. It’s a chilly world out there. The wolves are wait­ing to pounce on any mis­take.

It’s three women whose ab­sence hurts the most, though. Dil Wick­re­mas­inghe parted com­pany with New­stalk in the wake of the Ge­orge Hook con­tro­versy. Her cru­sad­ing Global Vil­lage show wasn’t my cup of tea, but it’s al­ways sad to see a good and de­cent woman de­part from the air­waves.

Sarah Mcin­er­ney’s de­par­ture was less con­tro­ver­sial, but it’s still as­ton­ish­ing that New­stalk couldn’t find a bet­ter place for such a ca­pa­ble fe­male broad­caster fol­low­ing the can­cel­la­tion of her short-lived Drivetime show along­side Chris Donoghue, who’s also since left.

Sad­dest of all to see go was Sarah Carey, whose Talk­ing Point was gen­uinely dif­fer­ent from other cur­rent af­fairs shows in giv­ing guests the time and space to un­pick more sub­tle and nu­anced ar­gu­ments, rather than strong-arm­ing them into tak­ing up ar­ti­fi­cially an­tag­o­nis­tic po­si­tions, then fight­ing it out to the death.

Ivan Yates bat­tles on man­fully for the sta­tion’s soul on The Hard Shoul­der, but New­stalk just doesn’t feel the same any more Watch after IT so NOW many de­par­tures.

Hardy Lyric Bucks FM also is on lost the its RTE iden­tity un­til this year, hand­ing over evenings to John Kelly on The Mys­tery Six Na­tions Train. Rugby Want is on to 3Player hear the un­til lat­est U2 or De­cem­ber Bjork al­bums? 16; You got it. Fancy some psychedelic Sim­ply Nigella jazz-rock? is on BBC No iplayer prob­lem. - cur­rently not

avail­able Clas­si­cal to mu­sic? view­ers Don’t in Ire­land. be silly. Kelly’s a great broad­caster, with a fan­tas­tic voice, and a stead­fast de­vo­tion to the mu­sic that he cham­pi­ons; but this mis­sion creep feels like a slap in the face to loyal lis­ten­ers for whom Lyric FM was the sole refuge on Ir­ish ra­dio from the re­lent­less march of — at the risk of sound­ing like a fuddy duddy — pop­u­lar mu­sic. Surely there’s enough of it else­where al­ready?

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