Saturday 19 August 2017

End of an era for our own Irish voice, Balfe

Aengus Fanning

ONE of our greatest radio broadcasters, Brendan Balfe, is to hang up his boots next Sunday after an illustrious 46-year career in Radio Eireann, and later RTE.

It might seem astonishing to anyone who, like myself, is dismayed at the dearth of genuine broadcasting talent in RTE that, at this moment, nothing has been found in the schedules for the veteran "musicians' broadcaster".

I am a daily listener to Lyric FM and while the music is often good and sometimes marvellous, there is a great deal of bland and even inane commentary between the records. (Marty Whelan, George Hamilton, Eamonn Lawlor and Donald Helme are notable exceptions.)

It is truly inexplicable that a broadcaster of Balfe's genius cannot, it seems, be given a programme on Lyric.

One piece of good news is that Gay Byrne's marvellous programme Sunday with Gay Byrne is returning on October 3 (2-4pm). Gay is an old friend of Balfe's and he is as incensed as I am at the failure of the RTE management to come up with some ideas for him.

"Brendan is a truly superb broadcaster and his knowledge of music is encyclopaedic," said Gay.

"He is at present doing a wonderful show on Saturdays on RTE Radio One, The Irish Voice, which is a sort of a Reeling in the Years with music," he added. "It is a plain fact and something that should never be forgotten -- only a talent like Brendan could do such a show.''

Balfe was a freelance broadcaster for much of his career, but was staffed by RTE about 10 years ago. The Irish Voice ends next Saturday and is a brilliant compilation of culture, music and poetry.

Sunday Independent

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