Sunday 23 October 2016

Sunday radio needs to make itself essential

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 06/09/2015 | 02:30

Solid and worthy: But Colette Fitzpatrick’s show hardly breaks new ground
Solid and worthy: But Colette Fitzpatrick’s show hardly breaks new ground

A Sunday morning magazine show should be like a Sunday newspaper, reflecting on what happened during the previous seven days, looking ahead to what's going to happen the following week, with some light diversion along the way.

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The template was set down by Andy O'Mahony's now defunct Sunday Show on RTE Radio One, which could be infuriatingly politically correct, but was essential listening for anyone wanting to keep abreast of Irish politics, society and culture.

Marian Finucane doesn't feel as necessary and can frequently be affected by a bewildering randomness. The Sunday Show moniker has now been adopted by Shane Coleman on Newstalk, a sparky alternative to RTE's older, smugger version. Having two guests reviewing the newspapers allows for more focus. On Marian's show, voices often overlap and it can be hard to tell who is speaking.

Today FM's Sunday Best, the newest kid on the block, doesn't always work, but deserves credit for trying something new, with stand-up Neil Delamere as an increasingly confident host. Picking the best bits of all three would make one unmissable show.

The Colette Fitzpatrick Show on Newstalk has now been going for a few weeks, long enough to judge if it brings anything new to the table. Again, it's solid, if a little worthy, with some bog-standard Donald-Trump-bashing last Sunday, but it never feels entirely essential either.

Then again, one could say the same about The Ray D'Arcy Show and it doesn't stop that from being endlessly hyped on RTE Radio One. Enough already with the ads!

This Wednesday, Ray did get a good interview with author Eoin Colfer about the upcoming Artemis Fowl movie, but it would have been even better had The Anton Savage Show on Today FM not got Colfer into the studio for a chat that very morning. Oops.

Award-winning journalist Jennifer O'Leary fronted BBC Radio Four's The Report on Thursday, looking again at the case of Belfast woman Mairia Cahill, who was raped at the age of 16 by a senior IRA operative and later subjected to a Provo kangaroo court, whose sole aim seemed to be to silence her and protect the organisation of which her abuser was a member.

It was a powerful introduction for British listeners to a disgraceful aspect of the Troubles that loses none of its power to shock and it took great skill for O'Leary to tell the story in only half an hour.

But former IRA volunteer Anthony McIntyre made a telling point. Mairia's aim was to encourage other victims to come forward and he himself has evidence that her treatment is merely the "tip of the iceberg". But his own reading of the situation was that the organised character assassination to which she has been subjected since going public has done its job and made it less likely that other victims will brave the same storm.

The IRA still exists and now has a whole new generation of keyboard warriors doing its dirty work.

Sunday Independent

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