Saturday 18 November 2017

Radio: He may weather the storm with $100m in the bank

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Conor McGregor
Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Conor McGregor
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Well - did you watch it? It's okay to admit it… although it's also okay if you ignored the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight, as any logical person probably would.

Radio was watching, for sure. On Second Captains (Radio 1, Sun 10am) - a smart, entertaining show coming to the end of its annual summer run - Ken Early reported from what Eoin McDevitt drily described as "the greatest event in combat sports history".

There was, Ken said, "an element of Floyd pulling the strings… for three rounds he kidded everyone and let them think something might be in the offing, this scarcely believable story of McGregor taking a shortcut right to the top of boxing…?" Then he added, equally drily, "No, as it turned out."

Early also noted "whole swathes of the stadium, empty… because the tickets were completely overpriced." Wow - I guess you actually can't fool all the people, all the time.

Over on Game On (2FM, Mon-Fri 7pm), champion boxer Darren O'Neill reckoned that "within 30 seconds, Mayweather had him sussed… I was impressed by how McGregor moved, but as a boxer, he was nowhere near the pace, he hadn't a clue… Mayweather was actually smiling and laughing in the ring".

Meanwhile Off the Ball (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 7pm) included the fight in a tongue-in-cheek poll about the "most underwhelming event" of the weekend. It was a bad few days for underdogs, they said, although with - how much? $100m, is it? - in the bank, McGregor presumably won't cry too much.

We're two weeks on from the announcement that Chris Donoghue and Sarah McInerney were being rotated out from their Newstalk Drive slot (Mon-Fri 4pm) - Jonathan Healy, Richard Chambers and Kieran Cuddihy swapping substitute duties between them - and already they're missed.

I wasn't sure about McInerney when they took over last summer, but she's proven herself a fine current affairs broadcaster, as is he. And the pair quickly established an amusing, and authentic, on-air chemistry.

Simply put, they worked as a partnership. The show was good. So why have Newstalk broken up the band like this? Couldn't tell you.

Donoghue takes up a new post as Group Political Editor for Communicorp, plus he'll present a two-hour Sunday show (in the slot vacated by Drive replacement Ivan Yates - yes, it is confusing). McInerney will do stand-in work across the schedule and has a one-hour Saturday programme at the ungodly, and vaguely insulting, hour of 8am.

It's a promotion of sorts for him, or at least a sideways move to a position of equal standing. It's definitely a demotion for her.

Even if this restructuring works out - and it might: I don't mind Ivan Yates at all - Newstalk change things too often. It seems that every few months, they're announcing another major shake-up. The station's willingness to experiment and try new approaches is admirable - but too much of anything is bad.

There's also the thorny issue of women on Irish radio, or rather, lack of. It must be almost a decade since I first wrote about this, and the situation hasn't improved. Radio 1 and Lyric are pretty decent, but the rest…

Is there any female presenter now on Newstalk from Monday to Friday? Apart from irregular subs, such as McInerney and Dr Ciara Kelly, I don't believe so.

Though I dislike identity politics and the borderline-insane nonsense that goes with it, I'd actually be open to the notion of gender quotas on radio; the playing field needs to be levelled somehow. Anyway, regardless, McInerney was good enough to hold the position on her own merits.

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