Wednesday 16 January 2019

There's always new tech but radio remains Number 1

 

Cormac O hEadhra
Cormac O hEadhra
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

A new year of radio lies ahead: another 12 months of drama and intrigue, rows and ructions, wisdom and insanity. I can't wait.

The medium gets better and better all the time. Amazingly, in an era where new communication technologies are being developed and launched at bewildering speed, the humble old radio continues to hold its own, and even outperform the usurpers.

Indeed it hasn't fundamentally changed since its invention in the late 19th century; rather, like the wheel or the printed word, radio has proven infinitely adaptable to the challenges of each successive era. Long may it reign.

This time of year, of course, sees radio look back and look forward. Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra (Radio 1, 1pm) did a fine job of both, with guests Lise Hand, Hugh O'Connell, Síona Cahill and Tony Connelly.

Abortion, Brexit and homelessness were the main targets in their sights; the show was brisk, informative and expertly steered by the ever-improving Ó hEadhra. He's a real rising star in RTÉ current affairs, one to watch and - by my reckoning - the only broadcaster with a regular gig in both official languages (Ó hEadhra also presents a morning news-driven show on Raidió na Gaeltachta).

Also good was the political review of 2018, and preview of 2019, on Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am), chaired by Kieran Cuddihy and featuring the station's own Sean Defoe, Christina Finn and this newspaper's Kevin Doyle. Their look back was done in a more structured manner than Cormac Ó hEadhra, using the conceit of "awards": Political Performer of the Year, Turkey of the Year and so on.

Cuddihy, of course, is another rising star in Irish radio. He took over as co-host of this show (alongside Shane Coleman) late last year after Paul Williams' departure.

He's a smart, talented broadcaster, though I wonder if he and Coleman aren't a bit too alike to successfully create that most-desirable quality in a radio show, "chemistry". Anyway, the apprenticeship has been served by Cuddihy; now it'll be interesting to watch him step up a grade.

Callan Kicks the Year (Radio 1, Mon 1.30pm) also reviewed 2018, though obviously in a much sillier, funnier and more entertaining way. This was great stuff, mostly, with several genuinely laugh-out-loud gags.

Callan's Kicks is prone to sermonising from time to time, but when the show concentrates on what it's best at - being an entertaining comedy, nothing more nor less - it makes us laugh and makes its satirical points, without the audience feeling they're at a well-meaning but slightly boring political lecture.

Finally, New Year Solutions (BBC Radio 4, Tues 1.45pm), Jo Fidgen explores ways in which we can make a practical difference to global warming, eg, give up the car for one day a week. They're unhealthy, dirty, noisy... and eat up a shocking amount of finite resources in their production and usage.

Think global, act local in 2019.

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