Entertainment Radio

Monday 22 July 2019

'It might have happened for a reason' - Sarah McInerney on axing of Newtalk show as she gears up for Radio 1 slot

Sarah McInerney at TV3's new season launch at The National Concert Hall. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sarah McInerney at TV3's new season launch at The National Concert Hall. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sarah McInerney Photo: Tony Gavin
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Sarah McInerney has said the axing of Newstalk show Drivetime "happened for a reason" as she gears up to present The Late Debate on RTE Radio 1.

McInerney was last week announced as one of three new presenters for the slot alongside Katie Hannon and Fionnuala Sweeney as current presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra gets his own show on Saturdays.

In August last year Drivetime, which McInerney had presented with Chris Donoghue for a year, was axed to facilitate the return of Ivan Yates to the station.  He now presents The Hard Shoulder in that slot.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1 on Wednesday Sarah said, "The decision was made by management.  They wanted to go in a different direction.  Ivan Yates is presenting that slot now.  That happened and that was the decision.

"We were disappointed.  It was going well.  We enjoyed it.  It's funny how these things work.  It might have happened for a reason," she said.

O'Rourke quipped that the show had been a very "listenable programme, the bit I'd catch before turning over to Mary Wilson on Radio 1!"

Chris Donoghue and Sarah McInerney
Chris Donoghue and Sarah McInerney

After leaving Drivetime, McInerney briefly presented an hour long politics show on Newstalk on Saturday mornings.  She also began presenting a weekly politics show, The Sunday Show, on TV3, which she will continue to host.

McInerney began her career in print at the Sunday Tribune before moving to The Sunday Times where she was political correspondent for eight years.  She still writes a column for the paper and says she finds it is possible to be more nuanced and to discuss complex issues more comprehensively in print than broadcast journalism.

"Things just get in the way unless you have a very long time in broadcast," she said.  "The thing I really enjoy about print is you can weave or tell a very complex story in great detail and you don't get caught up or pulled away."

However, she says she "feeds off" the social media aspect of broadcast journalism and finds it "instructive" to have live interaction with listeners and finds that "social media trends tend to point you in the right direction, if there is a direction".

Sarah will present The Late Debate on Tuesdays from the week after next while Katie Hannon will present on Wednesdays and Fionnuala Sweeney on Thursdays.

Speaking to Independent.ie in October last year ahead of The Sunday Show kicking off on TV3, McInerney spoke about rival RTE show, The Week in Politics, and said that the State broadcaster can sometimes be "a little bit constricted in how they approach a topic".

"They can be very very straight down the line which is important for the national broadcaster to do; give an objective journalistic perspective.

"But I think TV3 and Newstalk and independent radio allow for a little bit more of your personality and your own views to come through as a broadcaster while also trying to be, and being perceived to be, fair and objective, and I think it's possible to do that."

She added, "I think independent productions allow for a little bit more personality. That's just the nature of it."

However, it sounds like she won't be reining herself in too much on The Late Debate as she today admitted she loves "a good row" and "that's what I'll be getting on the show when I'm presenting".

RTE announces new radio schedule shake-up Exclusive: 'I was a bit like, 'oh my God my career is over, my life is over' – Sarah McInerney on cancellation of Newstalk show

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