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Radio: Knowledge of Radio Garden of Eden goes viral

Radio Garden

All day, everywhere

The Pat Kenny Show

Tuesday, Newstalk, 9-12 am

Jennifer Zamparelli on 2FM

Monday, 2FM, 9am-12


Jonathan Healy

Jonathan Healy

Jonathan Healy

David Pogue, an American writer, discovered Radio Garden last week, and tweeted about it: "This is the COOLEST. A Google-Earth type representation of the planet. Every green dot is a radio station. Click any dot to listen in. It's like cultural teleportation. You could spend hours with this thing…"

Pausing only to note that his name is indeed David Pogue, which means that his family are the Pogues ("we're having the Pogues over for drinks tonight"), I'm assuming from the excitement in his tweet that he was discovering Radio Garden only last week - that he hadn't known about it for some time.

Because Radio Garden was founded in 2015 - the Pogue was reminded of this by some responders to his tweet, but that desire for historical accuracy wouldn't account it getting almost 50,000 retweets.

It got responses from the actual historian Simon Schama, who declared, "this is STAGGERING… the entire world's radio…", and from our Minister Simon Coveney who was suitably restrained: "Clever. "

Even people who have known about it for some time reacted as if they'd just found out about it too, recommending a top station in Madagascar, or a heavy metal channel in Morocco.

And this is the fascinating thing - Radio Garden was always a great idea, but it seems to have taken the pandemic to make it go gangbusters. Since we're all effectively living in the same country, it seems that at last, Radio Garden's time has come. Since we can't go anywhere, we can pretend that we're somewhere else simply by picking another spot on the globe and hearing the same thing that they're hearing.

The device is no different this week than it always has been, yet somehow it is transformed. Somehow it has gone as viral as a new variant of the plague itself.

Even within your own country you can travel this way - I can tell you that Loughrea Community Radio was playing 'This Is' by Aslan just before 9am last Wednesday, and there's a station called The Cool Music in Glandore which is indeed cool almost beyond belief.

David Pogue himself might say it is the COOLEST.

I've believed for a long time that something, somewhere, will cause the awareness of online gambling to go viral - maybe something as unexpected as a tweet in the right place at the right time.

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But while we're waiting for that Radio Garden moment, we keep hearing these little outbreaks of awareness - there were two of them last week, completely independent of each other, on the The Pat Kenny Show with Jonathan Healy, and Jennifer Zamparelli on 2FM.

Jonathan Healy spoke to Dr Darragh McGee of Bath University and to the Guardian journalist David Conn about the proliferation of gambling advertising in the Premier League in particular, the fact that so much of the TV screen is filled with betting billboards. It has become one of those things that is so big, we don't even see it any more - this item, for example, was on Newstalk, which has a betting company as a sponsor of its Breakfast Show, and is also running ads for gambling addiction treatment.

I do not judge them for this, they are not doing anything different to most media organisations - including RTÉ Radio which has been running a kind of celebration of a gambling corporation on the Ryan Tubridy Show in recent years during the Cheltenham festival.

It's just an illustration of how ubiquitous it has become in the culture - against which you have the odd reminder of the damage it can do, from the occasional article perhaps in this paper, or that piece on The Pat Kenny Show, or the interview with recovering gambler and poet Eoin Coyne, by Jennifer Zamparelli. Indeed, Coyne later remarked on the irony that a webpage about this item on gambling addiction was targeted by a betting company for advertising.

There is this raising of awareness going on all the time, but it is relatively small and random, compared to the raising of unawareness which is happening incessantly. Yet it was good of Healy and Zamparelli to go there, and who knows? Maybe someone as wise and influential as Simon Schama will hear it and declare to the world it is... STAGGERING.

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