Radio: From a slip of the tongue to a tongue twister
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton did call water charges a "tax" during an interview on Newstalk Breakfast. The audio clip which was repeated ad nauseum throughout the day is unambiguous. But seriously, so what? Whatever it's called, we all know the days of getting water for free are over. Gleefully taking delight when ministers trip up in live interviews, and then purporting to find it all highly significant, is silly season stuff.
Jonathan Healy on Lunchtime even played a compilation of what various ministers had said about the charge segued with the Beatles' Taxman, before asking: "Slip of the tongue or revealing a hand? It was probably just a slip of the tongue." Exactly.
Can we move on now?
Maybe it was just a slow news week. The imminent sacking of Manchester United manager David Moyes was actually the top story on Tuesday's Morning Ireland. Which is fine ... I suppose. Football matters to millions of listeners. The problem was that Rachael English's interview with Michael Crick of the Guardian was rather dull. Ivan Yates was much more informative and entertaining on the same subject on Breakfast. As for The Right Hook later that day, by which point Moyes had officially become Old Trafford toast, George only dealt with the story briefly, a refusal to be influenced by ubiquitous footie chatter which is either admirable or foolish, depending on your point of view.
The same question could be posed about RTE Jr, the dedicated digital radio station for children which can be heard between 8.30am and 3.30pm each day. It's an impressive enterprise – albeit that the tone can be a little arch and condescending at times; just talk to children, not down at them – and in only one year of operation has already commissioned 30 new series at a time when there's not much else new going on in radio. Whether it can survive long term is another matter. BBC7, the similar channel for kids in the UK, was eventually put out to pasture after research showed that there were often only 25,000 children listening at any one time. That's in a country of 60 million people. I dread to think what size RTE Jr's audience is in a country the size of Ireland. Speech-based radio tends to be an older listener's game.
Finally, here's a word-for-word transcript of what Marian Finucane had to say last Sunday about the latest opinion polls: "You would have to say that if you were a Labour ... mind you, er, it is the ... it's the story, er, repeated over and over again ... like, if you ... you mentioned there, you said James Reilly, Phil Hogan and Alan Shatter, like, they're the ones that are in tr ... well, not in trouble, but the least popular, and Labour are going down in the polls, like. There seems a certain lack of justice in that."
You would have to say that if you were a licence-fee payer ... mind you, er, it is the ... it's the story, er, repeated over and over again ... there are plenty of great broadcasters out there, like, and they're the ones that are in tr ... well, not in trouble, but the least popular, and Marian's the one still pulling in three hundred grand a year in salary. To coin a phrase, there seems a certain lack of justice in that.