Entertainment Radio

Monday 16 September 2019

Radio: No disco but great memories on trip to musical past

David Gray
David Gray
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

A programme that was "just outside the system": Donal Dineen was the first presenter of RTÉ's seminal music TV show No Disco, and with those words in This Ain't No Party (RTÉ 2XM, Mon 5pm), he encapsulated what made it so special and so fondly remembered.

Over a decade, from 1993 to 2003, No Disco brought alternative music to Irish TV audiences. But, with Dineen, the late Uaneen Fitzsimons and Leagues O'Toole at the helm, it never felt precious or intimidating. The show welcomed you in, while bringing you to musical places you'd never been before, and sometimes hadn't even known existed.

This Ain't No Party, Ciarán Ryan's affectionate documentary, remembered those halcyon days for lovers of left-field music (possibly including Leftfield), made by a young team at RTÉ Cork. Initial producer/editor Colm O'Callaghan was a "relative novice to television production" - which is maybe why the show worked so well.

We heard from a tonne of contributors - including Dineen and O'Toole, O'Callaghan and his successor, musician David Gray and several others - plus a wealth of archive clips.

At an hour long, it was slightly stretched too long, but This Ain't No Party was an excellent piece of work, and a really cool trip down nostalgia lane for all of us who came of age, musically speaking, during the Nineties. And how poignant to hear the voice of Fitzsimons again, more than 17 years since she died tragically in a car accident.

Incidentally, Ciarán Ryan has, over the last few years, produced a body of work for radio which is unusual in its diversity and ambition. He's covered politics/history (The Limerick Soviet for RTÉ), local sporting heroes (This Sporting Life on Spin South West) and a legendary Irish martial artist (Master Galligan for Limerick Live95). This was a worthy addition to that fine résumé.

Is it officially silly season now? I ask because the sun is out, the schools and Dáil are closing soon… and radio is covering stories like the one on cow-dung heard on Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am). A Limerick farmer has been fined, after a legal case taken by neighbours, for what Shane Coleman decorously described as the herd's "indiscretions on public highways".

Do we need to force farmers to use a pooper-scooper for their cows, he asked half-jokingly? Pat McCormack, President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Associations, insisted that his members "do their best to minimise mess" - and added the valid point that, for instance, lorries make a lot of mess on small roads, too.

The professional football season - League of Ireland and upcoming World Cup excepted, of course - is also drawing to a close. Tonight Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final, and Off the Ball (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 7pm) spoke to Phil Thompson, who lifted the trophy against the same Spanish opposition in 1981. The likeable Scouser - also a regular contributor to the same station's Hard Shoulder (Mon-Fri 4pm) was asked if he remembered lifting the trophy.

"Do I!?" Tommo gasped. "Honestly, it's going through my mind right now… The guy shakes my hand and then goes to raise the trophy himself… and you can see me going, 'No! Give me the trophy!'" 37 years on, he said, it remains "the highlight of my life".

The same game was previewed by Game On (2FM, Mon-Fri 7pm) and Mark Langdon of The Racing Post. Madrid, he reckoned, "just keep finding a way of winning" - but in the end he plumped for the English team. Liverpool are "the more cohesive unit… the better actual team", and Madrid, he concluded, "will eventually be found out".

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