Tuesday 21 November 2017

'There have been many, many changes in Today FM - nothing stays the same in radio' - Hector Ó hEochagáin

He's gearing up to present FleadhTV for TG4

Hector O hEochagain
Hector O hEochagain
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Hector Ó hEochagáin has moved on from being axed by 2FM and is gearing up to celebrate the first anniversary of his Sunday radio show on Today FM.

The presenter was axed from his morning show on RTE radio in 2013 ahead of boss Dan Healy's big shake-up and move towards more youth-oriented content on the station.

There are no hard feelings, but Hector is not a regular 2FM listener.

"To tell you the truth I don't know what direction they're going in," he told Independent.ie. 

"I've been filling in on Ian Dempsey's show the last couple of years, and what an honour it is to fill in on that show.  So I don't listen to the other radio stations - I have Today FM on all the time.

"2FM has gone a more youth oriented, iradio type station, but there have been many, many changes in Today FM too.  Nothing stays the same in radio. We all know that it changes, people move jobs, lose jobs, shows end and shows start all the time."

Hector O hEochagain and his wife Dympna. Photo: Damien Eagers
Hector O hEochagain and his wife Dympna. Photo: Damien Eagers

Hector says the Sunday Sitting Room show "suits" him as it frees him up to do TV projects during the week.

"I almost had to decide to do radio and not do TV.  But now I've a few bits on the go."

Among those few bits will be another series of his hit travel show next year for TG4 after a break this year.

"TG4 is the place I started 16 years ago and I'm very proud we still make the best travel show in the country," he says.

"It's not really about where to stay, which airline to get - it's quite different.  When we did Central America last year we did the most dangerous jungles in the world, the most dangerous cities.  We tried to showcase the real, honest place with a positive twist. 

"You can sit and watch Narcos on Netflix all you want but we wanted to get down there and take a journey, starting at point a and ending up at point b.  It's not just flying in and flying out.

"I remember the Lord Mayor of this little village in the middle of Honduras invited us to breakfast.  They'd never seen a camera crew in their village and they couldn't understand why these Irish guys from Europe were flying in.  Honduras is not the place to go so they were very surprised.  So we had breakfast.  And why not?  I only have positive things to say."

Hector has also jsut been announced as one of a trio of presenters of FleadhTV on TG4, bringing live coverage of of Fleadh Cheoil Ennis 2017 to viewers on August 18, 19, and 20.

He will join Mairéad Ni Chuaig and Lynette Fay in presenting the show from Ennis, Co Clare, and there is not a man in the country better suited to this gig.

"I'm married to a girl from Ennis, Country Clare, so it’s a town I know well and a county I know very well and a very famous traditional music band are from there," he reveals.

"It's the Kilfenora Ceili Band and half the band are my brothers and sister in law so trad music is very strong in my household.  Whenever there’s a celebration in the house, a Confirmation or a Communion there’d be set dancing and a lot of impromptu trad sessions." 

Of Ennis he says, "It’s a rich part of the world for music and we can let the world know about it. [The Fleadh] is streaming online all over the world, America, Japan, and Asia.  Our music is one of our biggest exports."

The show will not be limited to the Irish and English languages.

"If they’re Spanish musicians I’ll be speaking Spanish," says Hector.  "I picked up a bit of Polish the last couple of years.  And Portuguese.  There’ll be bilingual stuff.  It’s going to be ceili bands from all over the world so there’ll be a flavour of that.  We’ll be out and about on the streets with live performances across three stages.  I’ts a very very eclectic live show."

Among the performers confirmed for the Fleadh are Sharon Shannon & Big Band, Lúnasa, Clannad, Gerry 'Banjo' O'Connor, Na Mooneys, The Finnegan McSherry Band, and Kilfenora Céilí Band among others.

"There will be really legendary Irish musicians next to under 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s.  They’re the future Sharon Shannons of Ireland." says Hector.

"I’ve watched it the last couple of years and it reminds me of the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury.  Traditional music is so cool, it never goes out of fashion.  It’s the Electric Picnic of traditional music.  This is the Ploughing Championships for trad heads.  People from all over the world, from every county in Ireland, 600,000 people will descend upon Ennis."

FleadhTV broadcasts live on TG4 on August 18th, 19th and 20th from 8.30pm to 11.30pm each night. 

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