Tuesday 25 October 2016

The 'Idiot Wind' is still blowing hard out there

Published 17/04/2016 | 02:30

‘Morning Ireland sounds as if someone has left the intercom on in the teachers’ staffroom’. Illustration by Jim Cogan
‘Morning Ireland sounds as if someone has left the intercom on in the teachers’ staffroom’. Illustration by Jim Cogan

Someone's got it in for me..." Bob Dylan seethed in Idiot Wind, starting with some offence which had been committed against his good self and expanding it to encompass much of the delinquency of the age.

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Then, as now, the great guiding principle is that anything that is any good in this world is in constant danger. That Idiot Wind is blowing "from the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol".

But recently it seems that it has been getting up to storm force.

Ivan Yates was the latest victim, an exceptional case, perhaps, in that his departure from Newstalk was his own decision - and yet Ivan's life had become so complicated by a few bad breaks along the way that we are tempted to blame it on that prevailing wind anyway.

I sympathise with him, of course, for the stress he must have endured in arriving at such a difficult decision; but in truth, the person I feel most sorry for in this situation is myself.

I am starting to take this stuff personally now - like someone's got it in for me. My life had become more manageable during the years of Ivan and Chris on the Breakfast Show. I would still switch over sometimes to Morning Ireland, an ancient reflex, but it would sound as if someone had left the intercom on in the teachers' staffroom - eventually I couldn't listen any more and would stray only as far as Marty Whelan, a man who once seemed at the mercy of every Idiot Wind, without the Wind, but who, in this volatile media environment, has strangely started to assume the permanence of a great megalithic monument.

So I was happy with Ivan; an unlikely state of affairs given that he is a philistine, a man who fails the first and perhaps the only important test for anyone in public life, in that he wouldn't know the difference between a good record and a bad record.

Indeed, not only is he not ashamed of his barbarism in this area, he is proud.

And yet none of that mattered to me, because Ivan is still somehow a cultured man, due to his deep understanding of sport.

It is a rare thing among current-affairs broadcasters, this ability to grasp the fact that the important events of the day will most likely not be happening on Kildare Street but on Sky Sports.

From that flowed his freedom from bullshit, such as his inability to pretend that the results of the National Football League were more relevant to the Irish people than events in the Barclays Premier League.

But he is going now, as the good ones tend to do, whether they like it or not. On the day that we learned from RTE that John Giles was now surplus to requirements out there, he happened to be on Newstalk, doing his regular Thursday night slot for Off The Ball.

Johan Cruyff had just died, so Giles was able to speak not just with his usual erudition on the game, but with reference to the fact that he had played against Cruyff in the European Cup semi-final of 1975.

It was as if the gods in their perverse way had arranged it all on this day so that they could say to RTE: "By all means make your executive decisions as you see fit, but if you guys think you can do without all that, then we wish you well my friends, we wish you well."

I might mention here too the decision to take Brendan O'Connor off his enormously successful Saturday Night Show, but I fear that that may bring us into areas of the paranormal which are inaccessible to most readers.

Let us catch up instead, on those changes at Lyric fm. You may remember that at the start of the year presenter Tim Thurston was retired involuntarily from the much-loved Gloria on Sunday mornings, as was Eamonn Lenihan from the magnificent The Blue of the Night, which is still there, but now trading as The Purple Vespertine from Friday through to Sunday nights.

The Purple Vespertine will eventually feature in textbooks, I am sure, as the ultimate concept devised by a committee. So you got The Blue of the Night okay? And you want it to change it for reasons that are unfathomable, so you need a new title for the weekends - say, The Purple of the Evening?

Blue of the Night... Purple of the Evening... you see what they did there ? But since that is too obviously ridiculous, how about making the 'Evening' a bit ponce-y by calling it "Vespertine", which means "something that relates to the evening"?

Again it's hard not to take it personally, when you realise that despite the terrible scarcity of resources, they somehow added something to the start of 'The Blue' - they added the News, in Irish.

They've stopped that now, but the question of why they started it is still a disturbing one.

I accept that it's not all about me - not all of it - but when I consider that Ivan will no longer be there for the breakfast, Lenihan is gone from the weekends and Thurston from Sunday mornings, O'Connor has vanished from Saturday night and Giles will be leaving the telly in the summer, then I've got to conclude that it is at least partly about me.

Sunday Independent

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