Late Late Show aftermath: Is it time to make Ryan Tubridy’s radio show on RTÉ longer?

Normally these days, everything goes on for far too long. The Ryan Tubridy Show is the opposite: it could do with being a little bit longer

Ryan Tubridy in the radio studio. Photo by Damien Eagers

Darragh McManus

It’s probably the biggest news in Irish broadcasting for a few years, so we can forgive Ryan Tubridy (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am) addressing his imminent departure from The Late Late Show, fairly early into the radio week — three minutes and 41 seconds gone on Monday’s edition, to be precise.

Ten more chat shows to go, Tubridy said. He thanked people for their kind words and said he was glad the decision “was out there now”.

He wished his successor best of luck: “Whoever they are, I look forward to watching — if I’m not out.” He’s not retiring “so much as changing lanes”; the Radio 1 programme, “this weird club of ours”, will continue.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, it was all done, the matter put to bed. Fair enough: the (radio) show must go on.

And on that: listening to Tubridy this week, a question reared its head — where does he go from here? It would appear Radio 1 is where it’s at for the foreseeable future. If so, could I suggest they extend his morning show from its current one hour daily to two?

The problem with The Ryan Tubridy Show isn’t quality, but quantity. Each episode is perfectly fine, but there’s not enough of it.

In one way I can’t believe I’m saying this: in general, my life is one unending complaint about how everything nowadays — telly, radio, films, books, albums, life itself — goes on and on and on, for far too long.

Normally, my philosophy is ‘less is more’. Not so here. An hour feels too short, it feels insubstantial; you’re left wanting a bit more.

In practical terms, what with news headlines, theme music, ad breaks, the odd song and an outro jingle, you don’t get much change out of an hour. So, for instance, after his brief monologue on the Late Late decision, Tubridy nattered away amiably about a few quirky/interesting news items for a bit.

Then we had an extended interview with some Dancing with the Stars competitors, including winner Carl Mullan and “best dancer” (all seemed to agree) Brooke Scullion, after the season finale. Apart from RTÉ’s annoying habit of hawking their own products (and Mullan presents on sister station 2FM), this was fine, a bit of fun, the sort of light-entertainment bit that Tubridy can do in his sleep.

On another day, more grabbed-from-the-headlines musings, before Tubridy showcased his other main broadcasting strength in a long interview with Kildare man John McKeon.

His son Kieran took his own life a decade ago, and John now runs Kyrie Therapeutic Farm, a place of recovery for mental health problems, which seems to take a very fresh and inventive approach.

Suicide is a tough subject to tackle; as usual, Tubridy did it with sensitivity and patience, drawing out John’s story and allowing him space to tell it.

Again, it was good stuff — and then it felt as if the show had ended prematurely.

I’m not sure how they’d work it, timewise — move Claire Byrne back, start Tubridy earlier, move him to another station? But I do feel the programme would benefit from being a little longer.