Thursday 27 October 2016

And it's out with the new, in with the old

Eilis O'Hanlone

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:30

Ryan Tubridy: Headed back to RTE Radio 1
Ryan Tubridy: Headed back to RTE Radio 1

So it's official. Ryan Tubridy is on his way back to RTE Radio 1, where he will no doubt now have the daily honour of wrestling Ray D'Arcy to see who get first dibs on that breaking news about "Ireland's smallest cow". Can't wait.

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Said no one, ever.

The returning hero was unveiled on Friday during the final edition of an all too brief run of The Brendan O'Connor Show, which has proved a welcome change from the bland, identikit fare normally on offer at that time of the morning. O'Connor has a spikiness about him that feels much more modern than the smooth, eager-to-please Tubridy, whose persona could be from the 70s for all the zeitgeist he brings to radio.

He starts in September anyway. Just in time to tie it all up neatly with the Late, Late in one big cross-media blancmange. Which is probably the thinking behind the move.

For their part, the hosts of Today With Sean O'Rourke and Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show were once again away from their microphones at the same time this week. Wouldn't it make more sense for the two stations to stagger the big beasts' holidays in order to tempt potential listeners away from the competition?

Not that Keelin Shanley and Shane Coleman (respectively Sean and Pat's replacements) aren't excellent broadcasters in their own right - they are - but it must be easier to get people to "move the dial" when regular voices are otherwise engaged?

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was on Sunday's Marian Finucane and found himself on the sharp end of a passionate critique of the Irish medical system by businesswoman Anna Cannon, a mother of two special needs children.

Varadkar made a good case for the defence, as Cannon lambasted "Third World" conditions in hospitals, but he really was on a hiding to nothing, especially when Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit weighed into the fight.

Marian was on top form, overseeing the debate, both on this subject and earlier on the Banking Inquiry, with well-informed determination - but still, how can a centre-ground politician ever resist the rhetorical tide of a populist anti-austerity message?

On Newstalk's Sunday Show the same morning, there was another example as Fintan O'Toole declared that the cost of providing genuinely free primary school education for every child in Ireland would be a paltry €100m a year, so why wasn't it done?

Presumably he was relying on figures provided recently by Barnardos. But while the organisation's claims made good soundbites, surely no one seriously believes such modest increases in funding would solve our chronic school problems when the education budget is already more than €8.3bn a year?

Finally, Monday's Arts Tonight on RTE Radio One gave listeners "another chance to hear" the first of a sequence of occasional editions devoted to Irish art and architecture.

In other words, repeats.

So why not just say so? We can take it. We know broadcasters need holidays too.

Sunday Independent

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