Wednesday 24 July 2019

Countdown to election has already begun

TRACY CLIFFORD: Making her refreshing debut on 2FM
TRACY CLIFFORD: Making her refreshing debut on 2FM

Eilis O'Hanlon

The funniest moment of the week came on BBC Radio Four's Westminster Hour last Sunday when word came through that Britain's new Labour leader had given a top job to John McDonnell, a man who once called for the IRA to be "honoured" for its actions.

"Are you sure about that?" murmured the Labour MP in studio, who had just been insisting that the party would soon overcome its internal divisions and pull together for the common good. The bad news was quickly confirmed.

It was one of those moments you really wish radio had pictures, just to see the look on the poor man's face.

Interestingly, RTE Radio One's This Week earlier that day didn't cover Jeremy Corbyn's election, but did give large prominence to a press conference being held in Belfast by former IRA hard man turned Sinn Fein's 'Six Counties chairman' Bobby Storey, at which the party explained that the current political stalemate was all the fault of those Brits. That one again, huh?

Monday's Drivetime dutifully followed suit by stressing the "unanswered questions" about Storey's recent arrest.

The Colette Fitzpatrick Show, meanwhile, was busy debating female Viagra, hardly allaying suspicions that it's a token sop to women listeners in Newstalk's schedule. Fitzpatrick's a great journalist, but the show is letting itself be backed into a dead end.

There were definite stirrings of election fever all week. Matt Cooper got stuck into both Fianna Fail's Mattie McGrath and Labour minister Brendan Howlin on Monday's Last Word with gusto, suggesting that he can't wait for the real contest to begin.

George Hook was less enthusiastic, dismissing the Government's insistence that it won't put the economy at risk just to win votes as the "usual claptrap". His sparky conversations with Newstalk's political editor Shane Coleman should make The Right Hook unmissable over the coming months.

Making its debut on 2FM was Tracy Clifford, fronted by the former Dublin Spin FM breakfast host, who, as part of a revamp following the departure of Ryan Tubridy, now has the lunchtime slot.

First impressions suggest she's smart, funny and confident and it's great to see a woman taking charge of a daytime show on national radio.

Later that day Fergal D'Arcy also started his own new show on Today FM, declaring: "It is a custom on a man's first show that he picks the first song." So presenters don't generally select the music that they play then? I always presumed that was part of the job.

I'm not sure how much free choice was involved anyway. Fergal picked a song by Muse then announced he'd be giving away tickets to the band's latest tour - as, coincidentally, was Tracy Clifford. So possibly it was more a case of PR than personal preference.

D'Arcy brought a nicely chilled-out vibe to the slot all the same, prompting a caller on Wednesday to say: "You've got that Tony Fentonish voice going." Surely not what Fergal was going for, but hey, never turn down a compliment.

Sunday Independent

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