Entertainment Radio

Thursday 23 January 2020

Darragh McManus on radio: Sorrows come not as single spies in week of radio loss


Marian Finucane
Marian Finucane
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

It never rains but it pours. A few short months after Irish broadcasting lost one legend in Gay Byrne, two more died in quick succession - Marian Finucane last week and Larry Gogan early this week.

To describe it as a shock would probably be an understatement, and the sense of loss and distress was plainly felt among their erstwhile colleagues and listeners all week. In their own way, both Marian and Larry were profoundly influential people on Irish life over the last four decades.

Many people this week pointed out how Marian had changed the shape and tone of our society hugely, particularly with regard to women's voices being heard. And while Larry didn't deal in weighty topics and hard-hitting interviews, things like pop music are just as important to the fabric of daily life - and his infectious love for the form made this country a much happier place for a long time.

Where do you even start with the tributes, given the number of them? Ian Dempsey, ex-workmate of Larry at 2FM, told Dermot and Dave (Today FM, Mon-Fri 9am) the late DJ "always made you feel so welcome… He had an amazing personality and great sense of humour".

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Dave Fanning, who worked with Larry until the latter's switch from 2FM to RTÉ Gold a few months ago, told Pat Kenny (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am) that as soon as Larry walked into the room, you felt that everything was right with the world. And Henry McKean's re-enactment of some of the most famous (wrong) answers from the 'Just a Minute Quiz', on Moncrieff (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 2pm) was funny and endearing.

Meanwhile, Marian was honoured across all stations for her journalistic abilities, wit, sense of mischief and unparalleled ability to subtly, but fatally, skewer pomposity and hypocrisy. We heard clips from some well-remembered interviews, the most powerful maybe being with then-terminally ill Nuala O'Faolain.

There was also a special edition of her own show (Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am), hosted by Rachael English. "It feels strange," she said, "to be sitting here in Marian's chair, talking to Marian's guests… but it is, in many ways, a privilege." Strange, perhaps, but also very fitting.

Another doyen of Irish radio, Ronan Collins (Radio 1, Mon-Fri noon), paid tribute to both of his departed friends with a sweet and moving few words: "I'm going to leave you with this piece of music, which I planned to play today in memory of Marian Finucane, called 'An Droichead' or 'The Bridge'.

"And now I have this image of Marian on the bridge and Larry walking up one side and Marian saying, 'Oh my God what are you doing here?' and then Larry saying, 'Come here till I tell you'. God bless them both."

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