Radio: An Irishman in Guantanamo -- and a heartfelt plea for 2014
End of one year, start of the next . . . the week on radio was full of reflections and prognostications, seeing as it had one foot in the last year and one foot in this.
It was great, actually -- a handy sort of précis -- first, of everything that happened in 2012, and then a heads-up on what to expect over the next 12 months. Radio is brilliant like that, the way it can reduce things to their essence and make you feel as though you've got some kind of a handle on it all.
Oddly enough, though, the best thing I heard all week wasn't broad in scope at all, rather a single interview with a single person. But the discussion between Sean Moncrieff and Tom Clonan (Newstalk) was superb, mostly because the subject is a very interesting man.
Clonan is a former Irish soldier, and now a writer on security matters. So, within about a half an hour, the Moncrieff interview had covered a really broad range of topics, from sexual assault in our Defence Forces to Islamofascist terrorism; from Homeland Security to bullying in Irish media.
The stories were great -- I'm still chuckling at Clonan worrying over the kids' dinners while detained by US authorities en route to Guantanamo. And his descriptions of the nebbish, almost robotic security men were very funny. (Possibly not so funny at the time, though).
A lot of it was moving and powerful too. He obviously believes strongly in women's rights for one thing, and made a passionate plea that we here in the West stand and fight to protect our values of equality and liberty against the ignorance of religious extremists.
As for 2014 on radio, may I make a passionate plea of my own?
More diversity of voices.
I don't just mean opinions. I literally mean voices; or more specifically, accents. Irish radio is being colonised, like an invasive species of weed, by what we might call a "media accent".
You know what I mean: vaguely Americanised, very smooth, unlike the way any real person actually speaks; and, most crucially, impossible to place.
This country has an amazing variety of accents . . . and most of them, bar Cork and a number of Ulster variations, are being lost to radio.