Tuesday 23 January 2018

McKean's good, simple review show makes the story king

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Around this time, of course, we have several end-of-year reviews and whatnot, but Henry McKean has started something slightly different with Reports from the Edge (Newstalk). Instead of the last 12 months, he's looking back over the last 10 years.

It's a good, simple idea for a radio show – so good and simple, actually, that you wonder why nobody thought of it until now. And it's especially good and simple because McKean himself has such a good, simple style of reporting.

He listens. That's about it, but that's an awful lot in a world that is increasingly loud, self-obsessed and attention-seeking.

McKean asks questions and listens to the answers. He listens to what people are saying. He listens to what's going on around him.

He doesn't yammer on and try to make himself the centre of attention. He realises that the story is king, not the person telling it. Which makes him an excellent story-teller, and one of the gems in Newstalk's crown for the last decade.

He's comfortable with all sorts of subjects, too. This series began with McKean's report on the notorious Love Ulster riots of 2006, but I expect to hear a wide variety of topics over the coming weeks. This is a man who once underwent fake labour to see what it felt like, after all, so anything is possible.

The Thomas Byrne story came to its inevitable conclusion, with the disgraced solicitor getting 12 years in prison. All the news shows went heavy on it early in the week – Matt Cooper on The Last Word (Today FM) was particularly good, dissecting it all with his usual forensic thoroughness and the assistance of court reporter Conor Gallagher.

Byrne's downfall makes for a perfect parable of Celtic Tiger excess, which is probably why it's captured media attention so strongly – and in fairness, the public too. We're fascinated by these stories; it's a symbiotic feedback loop between media and consumer.

I'd agree with the commenters who pointed out that it was a pretty severe sentence. Sure, this was fraud on a grand scale, but some people have got less for raping or killing. It's strange, and kind of depressing.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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