Friday 30 September 2016

The Inexplicable Vanishing of some of Lyric FM's finest

Published 03/01/2016 | 02:30

Jim Cogan's illustration
Jim Cogan's illustration

Assessing the situation from all sides, taking into account every possible perspective, looking at it from every angle, and then going back and looking at it again, and again, until I am absolutely sure, I have decided that the only rational explanation for the recent changes at Lyric FM is that there is none.

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Which is not very helpful to the presenters who have been dropped, to Tim Thurston of the much-loved Gloria programme on Sunday mornings, or Eamonn Lenihan, one of the presenters of the magnificent The Blue of the Night, or Donald Helme of Jazz Alley, who has been at Lyric since the opening day.

I am sorry, I just have no idea why any radio station would get rid of some of its best people for no good reason that any sane person can discern.

Or why it would run the risk of demoralising many of those who remain, who have seen how the best can be discarded.

In fact, I probably stopped trying to work out the reasons for the decisions of RTE in general around the time of the First Inexplicable Shafting of Marty Whelan some years ago and perhaps the only note of consolation in this particular atrocity is that Marty's breakfast show has somehow "made the cut", as it were.

Indeed, the practice of broadcasters being inexplicably shafted is so associated in our minds with Marty, we should hereby declare that anyone who finds themselves in that situation is being "Martied".

As for why Marty himself is not being "Martied", again we have no idea. His show is going well, indeed Ireland in general tends to be going well whenever Marty is going well - but then Tim Thurston's show was going well, and Eamonn Lenihan's show was going well, and Jazz Alley has been going well since 1999, so clearly that doesn't count when these great changes are being considered.

If it did, then we might have some idea what is going on.

So let us take as our guide the Sherlock Holmes dictum that "when you have eliminated all that is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth". And let us look at it one more time.

When changes are made at a radio station, even of the most trivial kind, clearly the purpose of those changes is to improve things in some way.

Yet it is simply unimaginable that anyone might form the view that Lyric FM could be improved in any way by getting rid of the revered Tim Thurston.

Indeed, shortly after he had said goodbye to the listeners last Sunday morning, an online petition was started by one Conor O'Reilly under the banner, "Please re-instate Tim Thurston's wonderful programme Gloria..."

It was quickly signed by more than 2,600 people, who wouldn't normally do that sort of thing but who endorsed the message of the campaign, which argued: "It seems a very strange decision to take to deprive his audience of this most uplifting and beautiful start to a Sunday morning."

A "very strange" decision? Try "virtually inexplicable" and "deeply wrong-headed". And keep going, because these listeners were not just being deprived of their uplifting and beautiful start to the morning, there is also a kind of a moral dimension to it, an appreciation that a presenter of the calibre of Tim Thurston has been putting his heart and soul into this thing, along with all his knowledge and his experience.

That excellence in any field requires a tremendous level of psychic energy, that a Tim Thurston is "giving of himself," as we say.

The listeners know it and they also know that you can't achieve the same thing just by getting someone else of a certain competence to do it. That there's a kind of magic to these things, and that you don't want to mess with that.

Because it is so rare, in this world, for anything to work so well as to be deemed "beautiful" and "uplifting", and even "glorious", it should go without saying that you would want to hang on to such a thing, that you wouldn't want to do something profoundly foolish such as changing it, until illness or infirmity or death changes it for you.

Which is what I would say too, about The Blue of the Night. Of those who have been "Martied", the 'Blue' presenter Eamonn Lenihan is the one I would listen to the most. Along with the other 'Blue' presenter Carl Corcoran (who was once the recording artiste known as Jamie Stone), Lenihan has created something more than a late-night soundscape of the finest music known to humanity; he has created something that is a work of art in itself.

The Blue of the Night is probably the best radio programme in the world; all things considered, it is certainly the best programme in my world.

So obviously what RTE executives have decided, as part of the new Lyric schedule, is to broadcast it on four nights a week instead of seven.

So maybe, just maybe, they're doing all this just to annoy me.

Yes that must be it.

Remember, "when you have eliminated all that is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

If you can think of a better reason than this, feel free...

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