Sunday 18 March 2018

Back of the net! A week when radio hit the onion sack

Ballbusters (2FM) is a light-hearted, comical sports show, co-hosted by Andrew O'Connor and Fiona Looney. To use the argot of sportswriting, it's a game of two halves.

On the good side, it's great to see sports programming that doesn't take itself seriously. It's meant to be a bit of craic, but often, journalists and fans act like it's life and death.

Ballbusters, thankfully, isn't like that at all. The tone is smart-assed and playful; they have fun with the conventions and clichés of sport.

On the bad side, it's not that funny, and some of the humour is forced and a little, well, laddish. The kind of thing that passes for "banter" among the simpletons who like Andy Gray. There's a vague air of desperation betimes: quick, get in with the "hilarious" quip before everyone switches off!

So, at the end of the day, they've done alright -- but they'll need to up their performance the next day.

On a much higher level -- intellectually, culturally and every which way -- is Off the Shelf (Radio 1), Andy O'Mahony's ever-brilliant books show. This is the sound of public service broadcasting at its finest: unapologetically erudite, high-brow and informative.

This week he discussed The End: Hitler's Germany 1944-45 by Ian Kershaw with academic Dr Stephan Malinowski and journalist Denis Staunton. I found it engrossing, though I'm not a major history buff.

Especially interesting were those parts that addressed Albert Speer -- Hitler's genius architect, who had grandiose visions for Berlin -- and the creepy, psychopathological way fascist movements create a groupthink that's so strong, it's unbreakable.

This week's Documentary on One, Our Women's Heart, looked at the phenomenal success of that album, released in 1992, and its effect on three generations. It was quite sentimental and almost simplistic in parts; they made some ludicrous claims for the album's significance, and there was some historical confusion.

But I'm parking my cynicism -- for once -- to say, this was really nice and I liked it very much. When A Woman's Heart came out, I worked in a place where the house band played a lot of the songs; the whole thing is bound up with memories and nostalgia for me.

Final score-line: Objective Criticism 0, Warm Fuzzy Feelings 1.

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