Friday 14 December 2018

Ditch all the kids and bring on the grown-ups

Eilis O'Hanlon. Photo: Kip Carroll
Eilis O'Hanlon. Photo: Kip Carroll

Eilis O'Hanlon

Was that Anton Savage on RTE Radio One's Today With Sean O'Rourke on Tuesday talking about luxury cars? Indeed it was. The former Today FM host has been much missed since he was replaced on the station's mid-morning show by Dermot And Dave. Their listenership is steady, but nothing spectacular. Is RTE planning to open the door for a comeback? Not before time, if so. As a broadcaster, Savage always sounded like a grown-up. That alone sets him apart from the giddy schoolboys posing as stand-up comedians who now throng the airwaves.

Equally welcome is the announcement that Pat Kenny, whose audience hit a new high of 152,000 in the last JNLR figures, has just signed a new two-year contract with Newstalk. Pat is 70 years old, but it's hard even now to think of a serious replacement, though there are definitely times when he gives a sense of treading water.

Take the item on Wednesday's Pat Kenny Show about homework.

With children back to school, it was the perfect opportunity to have a solid conversation about whether the mountain of evening and weekend work which is piled on to schoolchildren actually does any good to justify the disruption it has on family life. Other countries manage perfectly well with little or none. Instead, the programme just sent Henry McKean off to talk to pupils about what they thought of homework.

"I hate it," said one. Why? "It makes you bored." Even Pat sounded unconvinced, saying it was akin to asking children: "Do you like ice cream?"

McKean, while personally in favour of banning it altogether, declared himself "surprised by the numbers of children who said they actually liked it".

"Mmm," responded Pat sceptically. It was a bit of a missed opportunity. There was nothing there for the veteran broadcaster to sink his teeth into, but parents around the country would surely have welcomed a proper discussion of the issue.

Pat Kenny also made an appearance on RTE radio a few weeks ago, in an archive interview with Marisa Berenson about her time in Ireland filming Barry Lyndon with Stanley Kubrick (or not filming, as it turned out, because he famously abandoned the shoot). The clip featured in A Film With Us In It, a new series in which Carol Moran and Eoin Sweeney delve into the archives to tell the stories behind films shot in Ireland.

The choices are fairly predictable - the first episode took in Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart; the second, The Commitments; last week it was Michael Collins - but perhaps older, less well known films were not as well documented at the time. The banter between Moran and Sweeney can also get a little cheesy. But it's a fun show, and we'll probably miss its innocent pleasures once Late Debate returns in the same slot soon.

This Week on the same station, meanwhile, expressed indignation that chip shops are allowed to sell food at the same lower VAT rate as "Michelin starred restaurants". This was framed as concern for obesity, but just came across as appalling snobbery.

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