So you want to make it in ra­dio?

Doc­u­men­tary on One is one of RTÉ’s finest as­sets, and now its team is hold­ing open train­ing ses­sions

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS - Jim Car­roll Emily Long­worth

De­spite the brickbats and be­grudgery reg­u­larly thrown at them, there are some things that RTÉ does very well. In­deed, if the na­tional broad­caster was to spend more of our li­cence fee on its ex­cel­lent RTÉ Ra­dio Doc­u­men­tary On One strand rather than The Late Late Show or 2fm’s Break­fast Repub­lic, the world would be a hap­pier place.

Aside from be­ing a glit­ter­ing ex­am­ple of RTÉ’s public ser­vice re­mit in full ef­fect, the Doc­u­men­tary On One strand has pro­duced many fas­ci­nat­ing hours of broad­cast­ing over the last cou­ple of years. The docs have also been prize-win­ners, with the pro­gramme claim­ing more than 120 na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards over the past seven years.

There are more than 1,000 ra­dio doc­u­men­taries in the ar­chive, all avail­able free-to-air. Th­ese in­clude a pro­file of In­ter­fer­ence singer-song­writer Fer­gus O’Far­rell; the fas­ci­nat­ing story of Fran­cis Ba­con’s muse Hen­ri­etta Moraes; the tale of three mu­si­cians learn­ing how to be­come Mu­sic In Health­care train­ers; the life and times of an Elvis im­per­son­ator; and how West­meath taxi-driver Ray O’Hara found him­self driv­ing Michael Jack­son around the mid­lands.

Those with ideas for doc­u­men­taries of their own will be in­ter­ested in the Doc­u­men­tary On One’s up­com­ing train­ing sem­i­nar to equip peo­ple with the skills to make their own docs. It will take place on May 9th and 10th at the RTÉ Ra­dio Cen­tre in Dublin, and among the top­ics cov­ered will be how to gen­er­ate ideas, record­ing, in­ter­view­ing tech­niques, the use of mu­sic and sound, nar­ra­tion and script­ing, and more. Ap­pli­ca­tions are open and are on a first-come, first-served ba­sis. The fee is ¤495. See rte.ie for de­tails.

Elvis’s bi­og­ra­phy is in the build­ing

This week, Elvis Costello (above) an­nounced the up­com­ing re­lease of his “un­con­ven­tional” au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which is set for re­lease in Oc­to­ber.

In tan­dem with this news, Smiths co-founder Johnny Marr has just re­leased plans for his own tome, af­ter some hot bid­ding be­tween pub­lish­ers for the rights. Press re­leases have in­di­rectly promised fans some long-awaited dirt on his for­mer band­mates (in­clud­ing, and es­pe­cially, Mor­ris­sey).

Both an­nounce­ments have proudly max­imised the al­lure of the “in­side story”, for­get­ting that this is the ba­sic premise of ev­ery au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. But claim­ing un­con­ven­tion­al­ity in the sphere of mu­sic mem­oir may not be a good thing. If Elvis Costello’s not out there ex­plod­ing toi­lets or snort­ing live ants, what sort of book is this go­ing to be?

Costello con­tem­po­rary Eric Clap­ton pieced to­gether an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy in the last 10 years, but it’s a lit­tle thread­bare in places. For whole years, he was in a stu­por of un­re­quited love and heroin ad­dic­tion (pos­si­bly the least de­sir­able com­bi­na­tion of af­flic­tions un­der any cir­cum­stances). As a re­sult, we as­sume he had to phone mul­ti­ple close friends when writ­ing his book to ask: “No, but re­ally, what ac­tu­ally hap­pened in 1972?”

Brian Wil­son be­gins his ret­ro­spec­tive by re­count­ing a time when he ate a plu­ral­ity of steaks for break­fast. Also set­ting the bar low is Ozzy Os­borne, whose per­sonal state­ments in­clude the sen­ti­ment “Sure, I bit the head of the dove. And the bat. But I didn’t kill those 15 pup­pies.” (He clar­i­fies that maybe the sto­ries stemmed from the farm an­i­mals he harmed in­stead.)

There are big things ex­pected from Costello’s un­con­ven­tional story, so. Take it away, Elvis.

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