You know you’re feeling old etc etc. Can it really be time for a Reeling in the Years retrospective on 2010-2019? Apparently so, as this week’s Ryan Tubridy Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am) heard from producer John O’Regan on the forthcoming new series.
Lately I’ve got more and more into sports radio, from broadcast shows — Off the Ball (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 7pm, Sat-Sun 1pm), Game On (2FM, Mon-Fri 6pm), Sports Saturday and Sunday (Radio 1, 2pm) — to various podcasts, including ones by RTÉ plus this newspaper and others. I’m not sure if OTB:AM (Mon-Fri 7.30am) on YouTube counts for the purposes of this column, but that’s good too.
It has been a while since I tuned into The Blue of the Night (Lyric, Mon-Thu 9pm), but every time I return, it’s with a sense of wonder. Wonder, first, that anyone can be so dumb as to spend lengthy periods away from one of the finest programmes on radio, anywhere. And wonder at this show which is, well, one of the finest on radio, anywhere.
You know the way you’re listening to a music presenter, and they read out a request from a listener for a particular track, and they say they won’t be playing the track today, but hopefully soon they’ll get around to it? I don’t like that. I realise that in the list of human depravity it may not be close to the top, yet it’s one of those small things which to me indicates a broader malaise.
There’s a specific word — which I can’t recall right now — for that feeling when you can’t believe such-and-such an event was so many years ago. I can’t believe it’s a full decade since Ireland went bust and had to call in the IMF cavalry. But it must be, because Philip Boucher-Hayes has been running a Radio 1 podcast on this subject over recent weeks.
This week’s, and possibly this year’s, award for Stating the Bleedin’ Obvious comes from an EU initiative/quango/boondoggle/whatever called Safer Internet Day. This happened on Tuesday, leading to research — as heard on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) — that shows social media use by underage children has surged during lockdown. Really, Captain Obvious? Do you think so? I mean school is online, music and sports classes are online, children’s only social interaction with family and friends is WhatsApp calls and Zoom quizzes — gee, if only there was some connection between all that and their headlong rush towards social media.
Personal chemistry is an indefinable thing to some extent, whether in romance, in a band, between actors — or when putting together a team to present a radio show. I don’t know that I could even, as the philosophers say, “define my terms” as to what exactly I mean by chemistry: that’s how nebulous it is.
In the era of the podcast, one genre has captured the public's imagination like no other: true crime. With only the bare bones immediacy of the spoken word, crime podcasts have turned a generation of listeners into amateur sleuths and brought criminal cases to life in a way that a million cheesy television recreations never could. Crime podcasts are particularly popular among women - the majority of listeners are female - and it's speculated that crime stories are a way to experience fear in a controlled way. They evoke a mixture of schadenfreude - when a criminal gets their comeuppance - and relief, that we were neither the victims nor the perpetrators. The popularity of crime podcasts has brought about a revolution in storytelling.
“Winston Churchill famously did it,” announced Winifred Robinson on You & Yours (BBC Radio 4, Mon-Fri 12.20pm). But what was the “it” to which she was referring? Beating Germany in a world war? Smoking 10 cigars a day? Looking kind of like an ugly-cute bulldog puppy in human form?
One of the worst aspects of life nowadays is how much people exaggerate and catastrophise. In a perverse sort of way, they love disaster. Real-life is bad enough; many radio shows amplify this, with endless case numbers and apocalyptic prognostications. “Things have never been so bad,” they might as well screech. “This is the worst year ever. Covid is Armageddon.”
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