Friday 20 September 2019

Ian O’Doherty: Newstalk's 'Hidden Histories' makes you stop what you’re doing and actually pay attention

 

Gavan Reilly
Gavan Reilly
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

There are two ever present rules when it comes to weekend radio - you'll hear talk, lots of talk, about the boring, sorry, burning, issues of the day.

And you'll be exposed to more sport than most people can handle.

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But one Sunday slot is always guaranteed to make you stop what you're doing and actually pay attention, rather than having it on in the background as aural wallpaper. That slot is, of course, the weekly 'Hidden Histories' item with On the Record (Newstalk, Sun, 11am).

Alongside host Gavan Reilly, Donal Fallon is a master of producing the best kind of radio - the kind that makes you think, 'wow, I didn't know that.'

There were plenty of 'wow' moments in Sunday's item about radical black activist Marcus Garvey.

An inspiration for the likes of Malcolm X, Garvey has recently been rediscovered by this generation's Afrocentric radicals in movements such as Black Lives Matter. But as Fallon pointed out, Garvey was profoundly interested in Irish affairs and viewed Éamon De Valera as a heroic figure.

Heck, he even named his HQ Liberty Hall in a nod to Ireland. As Fallon pointed out, relations between the Irish in New York and the black people in Harlem were fraught at the best of times, yet he saw the Irish as kindred souls. That was even more surprising when you consider the fact that 'Garvey' was the slave name given to his ancestors by an Irish slave master in Jamaica.

Truly, you learn something new every day...

The main controversy in Irish radio this summer has been the "firing" of Muireann O'Connell from Today FM. In England it's not a woman losing her job that's enraging people, but a woman keeping one.

Lauren Laverne has been mercilessly hammered this week for her hosting of Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4, Sun, 11.15am). She has been accused of 'being uncerebral' and 'lightweight' as well as that most grievous of sins, 'sounding regional.'

As it happens, she's just not the right fit for an institution which was recently voted Britain's favourite radio show, as her remarkably dull interview with businesswoman Jo Fairley proved.

Laverne is a fine broadcaster, but every now and then, a good presenter and a good format can still produce dull radio...

That certainly couldn't be said about The Paul McLoone Show (Today FM, Mon-Thurs, 9pm).

In a summer of political madness, it's the simple joys in life we cling to, and they don't come much simpler than listening to a host who loves music and plays the likes of Penelope Isles and Hatchie.

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