Friday 16 November 2018

Popular radio host presses stop on 'Playback'

Buchanan to leave RTE after 42 years

Ruth Buchanan at RTE yesterday as she was putting together her
last show before she retires after 42 years with the national
Ruth Buchanan at RTE yesterday as she was putting together her last show before she retires after 42 years with the national broadcaster
Ruth behind the microphone on radio in 1974.

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Reporter

SHE sang, she told us about her labrador Rusty, but most of all, she played the best bits of the week's radio each Saturday.

But after 42 years at RTE, broadcaster Ruth Buchanan will hang up her headphones for the last time as she presents her final edition of 'Playback' on Radio 1 at 9.10am this morning.

In the one indulgence to mark her last programme, Buchanan has chosen a clip of herself for this last show.

"I was interviewed about my last programme on John Murray's show during the week but it's more about Oliver Callan (from 'Nob Nation') who was on the same show.

Not only did he do impressions of the usual politicians, he did one of my husband, Shane Ross," Ruth said last night.

She is leaving RTE as she has reached the retirement age of 65.

A one-woman team, editing as well as presenting, the former 'Poparama' host was asked to take over 'Playback' for a month in 1998. Twelve years later, Buchanan is still hosting what has become one of the most popular programmes on Irish radio.

It has grown its audience by 48,000 in the latest JNLR figures to 320,000.

Although the much-loved presenter refrains from singing on today's final show, 'Playback' listeners will remember Buchanan's off-key warblings with affection.

"I think all of us in the entertainment business need attention, and I wasn't getting very much, so I started to sing and for a while the figures started to go up," she said.

However the mother-of-two grown-up children -- Rebecca and Hugh -- said her singing proved less popular in Montrose.

"Nothing was ever said to me but I knew on the third floor, RTE management weren't too happy.

"But what really finished me was I once sang along with an instrumental piece by the RTE Concert Orchestra, I'm sure the orchestra still hasn't forgiven me. The figures for the show began to drop and I noticed when I stopped singing, they went back up again," she joked.

Hoping to set up a company doing independent radio productions, the 65-year-old is accompanied on her walks by Rusty -- the 14-year-old labrador about whom she often spoke about on-air.

"If Rusty was a younger dog I might want to retire but he's not going to last much longer," added Buchanan, who joined RTE as a continuity announcer in 1968.

Working in RTE last night, she revealed that she had tried not to think of today as her final 'Playback'.

"People wanted to know how I was feeling? I just worked through it as a professional broadcaster, not thinking about anything else other than the programme. That's how I dealt with the final show," she said.

And on to new radio projects, but thankfully not the one dreamt up by radio bosses for Buchanan a few years back.

"Somebody once had the idea that we should get politicians on and play them clips of what other politicians said during the week.

"That idea didn't get off the ground because a lot of people say a lot things they would rather forget."

Irish Independent

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