This Working Life: Bryan Dobson, journalist and presenter of Morning Ireland in conversation with Mary McCarthy
Leaving school in 1979, I wanted to become a journalist as I was big into current affairs and had got a taste for it on work experience. But the only course was in Rathmines and I did not get in.
I enrolled for a diploma in communications instead but dropped out early.
While at college, I was also working part-time for the pirate station Radio Nova and when they offered me a full-time reporting job, I left my three-year course a year early.
It was an exciting time, with the station being illegal adding an extra frisson.
I am sure leaving college early gave my parents grief but I could not wait to get out reporting.
Today, most of the research will be done by the 'Morning Ireland' team and I do miss that nitty gritty side to getting out to find the story.
Picking up the phone
I'm not active on social media aside from an occasional tweet. It can be useful for picking up stories, finding people and promoting programmes.
Like any news source, it needs to be checked and sourced. I couldn't say the extent it reflects 'real life' but I would say the number and range of people active on Twitter are quite narrow.
Wikipedia has my date of birth wrong so when it was wrongly reported I had a significant birthday in February, I got a load of messages; but I don't turn 60 until October.
When I was adjunct professor at University of Limerick a couple of years ago, I stressed to the students the importance of talking to people - of checking all the online facts.
Never enough sleep
The first time I presented an early morning show was for BBC Northern Ireland when I was in my 20s, and I hated it. I could not hack the lack of sleep and the effect on my social life.
When I transferred to another reporting job, I swore never to do it again. After three years with the BBC, I was offered a job on RTÉ's 'This Week' show and I remember it was strange suddenly not being able to report on Sinn Féin because of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. Through the two decades that followed presenting the evening news, it seemed I would never have to go back to the early shifts.
But times change and when Cathal (Mac Coille) retired two years ago, I offered initially to do one day a week. It was my wife Crea who suggested, why not offer to present full-time?
We are empty-nesters now so the social life is not as hectic and it was time for a change.
You rarely get a decent night's sleep. I take an afternoon nap, which helps. But you never properly catch up.
That is just the way it is; it's an occupational hazard and it seems to me there is no solution. Even on weekends, I can find myself wide awake at 3am.
Up and at 'em
The alarm goes off at 4.30am and I never roll over. Sometimes I lie in bed for 20 minutes reading my work emails; I may have been awake since 3am. To save time, I will have my shirt ironed and the shave and shower done the night before. A quick bowl of something and I'm in work for 5.30am.
While I love getting straight into the stories, I have found myself more out of my comfort zone than I expected. When presenting the evening bulletins, I had all day to prepare, and to mull over what questions to ask, but interviewing first thing is more intense. I love it but it can be tricky.
Sometimes you just have to make a call and there are days you think later in the day, I wish I approached it in a different way. Mostly, I try to avoid regret and keep going. You make the best decision you can with the information you have.
If someone is not answering my question, but saying something interesting which seems to be leading somewhere, I let them wander. If they are flapping and flamming about saying nothing, I rein them in and ask again.
Assuming I am listening. The hardest part is not to be distracted by what is coming up next or a message popping up on a screen.
A nose for news
I enjoyed immensely my time at the University of Limerick, giving workshops and lectures. In order to explain what I do, I had to deconstruct and break it down and I found this process interesting.
Interviewing and journalism are instinctive but can be taught.
I have no difficulty switching off. During the economic crash, I would grant myself one day off a week from reading the news as a kind of refresh button. I still follow this, though may sneak a quick peep. I know people say they get sucked into their phones but I can take a quick glance and turn it off.
For me, the newspaper is harder to put down; once it's out, I have to read it all. We go to the cinema a lot. I enjoy a good book and love to sail; if I can get away for a week sailing, this is physically and mentally all-consuming and a total break. I joined a gym and was going regularly, but the election came. I plan to get back to it.