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
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.