RADIO GAGA AND WHAT TO DO WITH 2FM?

The first thing I thought when I heard of Pat Kenny’s move to Newstalk was that I hope they have somewhere for him to park his motorbike with a roof.  I then hoped that the arrival of such a radio superstar might nudge the station into providing decent coffee. 
It is going to be a huge change for the veteran broadcaster, leaving the leafy campus and free parking in Montrose for the altogether more utilitarian surrounds of the third floor of Marconi House.  
But that aside, Kenny’s departure from RTE is wildly exciting for media nerds (of which I am one) as it opens up a range of possibilities and conundrums for broadcasting generally and for three stations in particular… namely RTE, Newstalk and TV3.  But it seems to me that the biggest challenge may in fact be for RTE 2FM.
Clearly RTE Radio One has the most pressing problem as it now has quite a large hole in its weekday schedule.  ‘Today with PK’ sat squarely and very comfortably in the mid morning slot; a slot in which Gay Byrne and more recently Gerry Ryan worked their radio magic for decades. 
The untimely death of Gerry Ryan proved how unprepared our state broadcaster was for the sudden departure of one of their major stars and revenue earners.  With no obvious successor poor Tubridy was moved from his comfortable slot on Radio One and was shoe horned into 2FM where it was hoped he would hold onto that precious ‘Ryanline’ audience.  It was an impossible task for Tubridy and the station still seems to be in a quandary as what to do in with this previously lucrative morning talk slot.
Many believe that 2FM should revert to being a music station and go back to trying to serve a younger audience.  Personally I think the station has missed that boat.  The teenagers I know wouldn’t listen to 2FM in a fit, stations such as Spin 103 (Dublin) in particular have that market sewn up. 
The problem for 2FM it seems to me is that a lot of their presenters and indeed their audience have stayed with them.  Gerry Ryan would be mid 50s now as is Dave Fanning and Larry Gogan is well beyond that and is (rightly) still broadcasting on the station.
RTE Radio 2 was launched in 1979 which was the year I left school.  I have listened fairly frequently ever since and I was a huge fan of Gerry Ryan, who brilliance at broadcasting and whose people skills were only fully recognised when he was gone. 
Unlike when Gerry died, there is a list of possible and seemingly very capable presenters who could deliver the goods and retain the audience (read advertising revenue) in the wake of Pat’s departure;  namely Miriam O Callaghan, Claire Byrne, Aine Lawlor and Audrey Carville.  And yes… they are all women…. as good ole Bob Dylan predicted all those year ago… “the times they are a changing.”
It is interesting that Newstalk are scheduling Pat Kenny immediately after their Breakfast Show.  RTE have traditionally given listeners a bit of respite after Morning Ireland in a slot that went from Ryan Tubridy to John Murray and is currently being caretaken by the very capable Miriam O Callaghan.
So I wonder would all this upheaval will signal a return to Radio One for Tubridy where he could once again provide the light relief after Morning Ireland before handing over to one of the female current affairs heavy weights I listed above.

So the problem RTE still has really is what to do with 2FM.  Personally I think there is still a space for ‘talk radio light’ in the morning.  It needs the right presenter.  It may well be a woman… (there are no women presenters on 2FM weekday prime time) and like a lot of the pillars of 2FM, she may not be that young!  I’m thinking a Fiona Looney or Jennifer Maguire kind of woman.  Wouldn’t that be something….  
Then Newstalk and the other independent radio stations might realise that women can do radio too… and can do it very well! 

MOON MAYHEM


On Wednesday last, 19th January, I got up at 5am. I headed straight for the kitchen for a glass of ice cold orange juice to wake me up. As I arrived downstairs I wondered who had left what light on. The kitchen was glowing in the darkness of the pre dawn. I suspected a laptop or muted TV. But no. Directly above one of the roof windows January’s Wolf moon was spilling ivory light all over the floor and up the walls.

An hour later I was walking down South Anne Street and again the moon called to me as she sailed slowly over the Westbury Hotel lending the silent city an air of magic. I stopped to honour her magnificence and attempted to capture it on my phone camera. I wondered what the moon was trying to say to me.

My early morning interview on Newstalk Radio done, I headed back towards Grafton Street in search of breakfast. As the moon sank slowly out of sight ahead of the rising winter sun, radios were beginning to pick over the previous nights drama in Dail Eireann, where Brian Cowen had won the vote of confidence in his leadership of Fianna Fail. Michael Martin’s challenge had certainly never looked very threatening. He had cut a lonely figure in a bare hotel room at his press conference. In fact Fianna Fail’s efforts to oust its leader was like watching a tribe of pygmies trying to down a bull elephant with bows and arrows.

The only talking point on Wednesday morning was Mary Hanafin’s apparent crisis of conscience or confidence which led to her picking up an arrow and launching it gently in the direction of the bullish Cowen. Even for a girl it was a rubbish throw and its only effect was to make her look very silly indeed.

Delivery trucks lined up on Grafton Street and the street echoed with the sound of shutters being raised signalling the beginning of the day’s trade. I left to head back to my normal life and Wednesday routine.

As evening fell, Grandmother Moon rose into the sky again, looking even more powerful and beautiful. Her round face seemed to wear an enigmatic smile as she presided over more mayhem. By 9pm the first of a waterfall of resignations was announced as Mary Harney bade farewell to her inglorious tenure as Minister for Health.

By 11pm, the moon was high in the sky and three more ministers vacated their positions. Our Government seemed to be melting in the moonlight.

By the time I awake on Thursday morning the moon is low in the Western sky and wearing a warm buttery rich hue. I am sure she winks at me as I try once more to capture her last moments of stunning beauty.

In Dail Eireann chaos has descended as Biffo attempts to promote lesser spotted TDs into ministerial roles. It was clearly seen as a political stunt to provide some much needed positive PR to elected representatives before they have to knock on doors around their constituencies and it backfires spectacularly. The Green Party throw a spanner in the works. At around the same time it seems that the comatose front bench finally wake up and their barely hidden anger is captured by the amazed political hacks who witness it. There are even reports of Mary Hanafin using the ‘f word’. The day ends with a reduced cabinet double jobbing all over the place.

By Thursday night, Fianna Fail seems to be eating itself. Conor Lenihan gives a stunning performance on Vincent Browne’s programme as he sells both his leader and his brother up the river. His anger explodes causing his face to glow crimson as he attempts to give birth to his new self right there on live TV.

As I head to bed, I search the sky for the moon. She is invisible under a thick blanket of cloud. But I hear her message. Her work is done here…. for now.

Goddess Moon, Grandmother Moon – symbol of feminine power and energy is now waning. But she will be back again in 28 days. I can’t wait.

Photo by Paul Sherwood http://www.sherwood.ie

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