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! 

‘UNTIL THE NEXT TIME

I have been getting a huge reaction to my piece ‘Until The Next Time’ which was broadcast on Sunday Miscellany on RTE Radio 1 last Sunday 21st April.

You can listen to the podcast of the programme by clicking the link here.  My piece is about 31 minutes in.

Here is the script of the piece…..

“Well, that’s about it I suppose…. no more news.”
I hate these words as they usually signal that our conversation on Skype is coming to its natural conclusion.  Except that there is nothing natural about Skype.  It’s contrived and forced and virtual.  It’s the best thing we have when we are 9,000 miles apart but it’s not real. 
We finally hang up… after the lengthy ‘bye so, ok bye, ok love you, ok bye, bye, bye’ thing we do, as my cursor hovers over the red ‘hang up call’ button on screen.  Then there’s that horrible noise that sounds like something being sucked down a drain and she’s gone.
The picture of her, dressed in her pink PJs lying on her bed stays with me as I imagine her jumping up to head off to brush her teeth.  A few moments later and she will return to climb into bed under the lightest of cotton sheets, her beloved black cat settling down beside her.  I sit staring at my laptop and curse that yet again I have nothing interesting in for lunch.
Then I curse the bloody weather and freezing temperatures, I curse Enda Kenny and his entire cabinet, I curse Fianna Fail before them and finally curse the gaping huge distance that separates me from my first born. 
I allow myself a few minutes to wallow in the frustration of not being able to give her a hug….. or to receive one of hers.  I desperately want to be able to smell her hair and wonder at glow of her beautiful skin.  I want feel the air around her shimmer as she laughs.  I want to  savour the sound as it falls all around me.   
Then I get cross with myself for feeling sorry for myself when I know so many in this country are suffering fates much worse than mine.
I bang cups and plates around in the kitchen and the dog looks at me with his doleful eyes, sensing that there is violence and anger bubbling gently somewhere just beyond his perception. 
I make a cup of tea and sit at my kitchen table.  The dog settles at my feet.  And for the hundredth time I realise that right now what I want more than anything else is to have her sit opposite me and to talk rubbish and gossip and giggle.  Hell, I would even take an argument with her if it meant being able to share her space, to be in her energy. 
I want to look around me and see the imprint of her life in mine.  A handbag here, a scarf there, shoes abandoned by the front door.  I miss her always, but sometimes desperately.
She is probably sleeping now in the heat of the Perth night, under the languid movement of a ceiling fan.  I think of all the nights when she was little and I would check her room before I retired to bed.  Bending down to stroke her hair and pull the duvet up higher. I didn’t know then how precious those days were.  Perhaps it’s just as well.
I don’t know when I will see her again and perhaps that also is just as well.  Because right now all that is keeping me sane is the vague hope that somehow, in the not too distant future, the possibility of making the trip to the other side of the world will suddenly reveal itself.
 I drain my tea.  “Come on dog, let’s go for a walk”.  The pain has passed.  Till the next time.

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