In an otherwise excellent interview lately with Christy Moore, Sunday with Miriam did that thing where the presenter asks the guest to remind us again of some of their life or career highlights, because there are some listeners who might not know this stuff – in this case, “a very younger generation”.
It is an approach that is so endemic, it suggests a fundamental rule is at work and it goes something like this: “the listeners we must keep in mind more than any others, are the ones who are least interested”.
Christy Moore, after all, has been a major figure in Irish music for about 50 years. And though Miriam’s interview was delightful in many ways, and Christy himself was talking about an album which features the early music of his career, there is hardly anyone, young or old, who is not acquainted with his basic biographical details. Hardly anyone, at least, among those who give a damn.
So I suggest that if you have got through life so far knowing almost nothing about Christy Moore, if you still need some sort of an introduction to the man at this time, this was probably not the show for you. And given the brevity of life in general, no energies should have been expended worrying about you.
Indeed, it seems wrong to even mention this essentially fine programme in relation to a practice that is so pervasive – because if the legal system cherishes the presumption of innocence, the broadcasting system cherishes the presumption of indifference.
It seems I have spent years of my life listening to interviewers inviting their guests to tell them things that I already know, that the interviewer already knows, indeed that most sentient beings on earth already know.
And it seems to spring from some notion of “neutrality” on the part of the presenters – as if they are so concerned about being seen to favour any one thing above the other that they can’t even bring themselves to favour the listeners who care above those who don’t.
If it is some “neutrality” you seek, you’ll find it all over Ryan Tubridy’s monologues, one of which last week touched on the terrible speech that Boris Johnson had given, in which he had mentioned his admiration for Peppa Pig. As Ryan played a few seconds of “Boris” making a disgrace of himself, some of us at least were hoping that Tubs would take this one to another level, and maybe nail Johnson as the massively destructive force he has been, and not just as an object of mere mockery.
This is how Tubs rounded it off – “if nothing else, he’s entertaining, maybe that’s what people need in the world”.
Though there was a hint of disdain in his voice, there was still this devotion to the paternalistic creed that someone, somewhere doesn’t really care about politics or any of that palaver, and you don’t want to be annoying them – because it is they above all others who must be “uppermost” in your thoughts.
As for the political neutrality of it, while I understand there is a place for that in any well-run organisation, to mention that Johnson, after all the damage he has done, might be “entertaining” in some way is not really neutral. It does him a favour. It is what he would have wanted, and thus it is not what the majority of listeners who know anything about him, would have wanted.
Not that they matter.
Lyric FM brings it all together by doing plenty of shows for listeners who care about music, while their Classical Daytime and Classic Drive offerings are for those whose music needs are mostly met by “the bit of classical” you might hear in an aromatherapist’s waiting room.
Yet in the middle of the Classic Drive show they have Luke Clancy’s Culture File, which happily doesn’t bother repeating for anyone who may have missed it that Mozart was from Austria and he’s well known for being very good at the music at a very young age.
A recent piece consisted of the composer Eugene Birman talking about the things he likes: interestingly he is very fond of the smell of petrol.
And, interestingly too, though I have never heard of Eugene Birman, it didn’t bother me that he didn’t give us his entire backstory before sharing his “likes”.
We were just pleased that at least somebody had heard of him.