Sunday 18 August 2019

'Radio needs a woman's voice, not a box to tick' - Keelin

Balancing career and motherhood is a whirlwind for RTE star Keelin Shanley, writes Claire Mc Cormack

BUSY TIMES: Keelin Shanley, pictured at RTE
BUSY TIMES: Keelin Shanley, pictured at RTE

Claire Mc Cormack

With 4am starts, two GAA-mad children, and a new job on RTE Radio 1's top news and current affairs show, Morning Ireland, broadcaster Keelin Shanley jests that her weekly date night with hubby, Conor Ferguson, had to give way.

"Our cinema night is totally out the window," laughed Ms Shanley, who joined the Morning Ireland team last month.

"The new slot is pretty brilliant for family life because you're up at 4am, but you will be around to pick them up for school. You might be tired, you might be a little grumpy, but at least you can be there," she said, adding that balancing motherhood and her career is a constant challenge.

"Suddenly, we have a seven-year-old, Ben, and a nine-year-old, Lucy, who is GAA-mad. We're constantly on the road for football and camogie training so it's just a whirlwind; life is very busy."

Despite her hectic schedule, Ms Shanley has found time to delve into the books nominated for The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2015 - of which the Sunday Independent is media partner.

"I try to read as many as I can, but I tend to have a lot of them read over the year anyway," she said, adding that she had been particularly captivated by The Long Gaze Back, edited by Sinéad Gleeson.

The book offers an anthology of 30 short stories by some of the most gifted women writers this island has ever produced.

"It's terrific. I'm really enjoying it and I'm discovering writers I really didn't know anything about," she said.

Ms Shanley (47) is an avid supporter of women's voices in print and broadcast. A recent national survey found that male voices make up 72pc of news and current affairs radio broadcasting time - with Newstalk among the worst offenders. RTE Radio 1's Today With Sean O'Rourke show, regularly hosted by Ms Shanley, is among the most balanced.

"As a broadcaster, the lack of female voices is something we are very aware of, and we all try hard to address - it's always in my mind. Some of the very best voices in science are women - because they are great at explaining complex issues simply," she said.

"There's no reason why women shouldn't be on air just as much as men. It's up to us to keep breaking through the glass ceiling; it's not a matter of ticking boxes," she said.

Sunday Independent

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