Radio: Marty Morrissey's roving summer carnival
The Business (Radio 1, 10am, Saturdays) takes a brisk morning stroll through a broad range of money matters. Host Richard Curran is a light touch moderator, which allows him to do high finance and small change stuff with equal aplomb.
With the summer sales in full flow, the show took a look at the psychology of pricing. So-called '99-effect' was developed a century ago in New York's flagship department store Macy's. Theft by staff was rife so management came up with prices such as $9.99 so that workers would have to register the sale and open the till to give the customer their one-cent change. The item went on to suggest that when we engage in retail therapy, we leave the rational part of our brains at the store door.
Exclusive outlets will display a small number of outlandishly priced items, like a €10,000 handbag or a watch that costs more than your house. The items may never sell, but they mess with your head. As presenter Damian O'Reilly from DIT observed: "It's an anchor price that's placed in our minds. And from that price we tend to adjust. Now a €2,000 bag seems almost sensible." Posh restaurants and fast-food chains use a variation on the technique, playing with our minds to great effect. The cynical use of hidden persuaders has spawned what O'Reilly claimed to be six most profitable words in the English language: "Would you like fries with that?"
The Business moved swiftly on to economic sanctions and the lost heyday of the big summer pop hit, before finishing with a visit to Kinsale to meet one of Ireland's oldest carnival families, the Pipers. For setting out a truly appealing and varied menu, The Business really is the business.
Speaking of big summer hits, they don't come any bigger than Marty Morrissey when the GAA Championship season comes around. The Marty Squad (Radio 1, Sundays, 6pm) is a travelling carnival, with Marty himself popping up at different grounds each week. This week he was at Croke Park where Dublin and Fermanagh served up a thrilling high-scoring encounter.
Like Michael O'Hehir, the voice of Gaelic games for decades, Marty has won the love of the Irish sporting public for his ability to transmit his enthusiasm with gusto. Last Sunday, his first guest was Fermanagh's Sean Quigley. Quigley had scored an extraordinary and clearly illegal goal, brazenly bundling Dublin goalie Stephen Cluxton over the line. Marty cut straight to the chase, asking Quigley if he really did think he'd get away with it. In the exchange that followed, Quigley seemed somewhat less than contrite, suggesting he was happy to get a bit of "luck". It was entertaining stuff.
Newstalk's fine documentary Castles, Candle and Kubrick (Monday, 11.30am) told the bizarre story of the making of the movie Barry Lyndon in 1973. The great director Stanley Kubrick made many masterpieces, but his lush Irish outing is widely considered his most beautiful and lyrical. Kubrick stayed almost a year and then fled, apparently having received death threats, though from whom is disputed. Described by those who worked on the set as a "bully" and a "tyrant", Kubrick made enemies effortlessly. His overnight flit was a shock ending worthy of one of his own movies.
The opening hour of Marian Finucane's Sunday show (Radio 1, Saturdays and Sundays, 11am) is consistently an essential sounding board for the national conversation. There was a whiff of cordite to last weekend's lively panel discussion.
It began when the host asked the former governor of Mountjoy Prison, John Lonergan what prison would hold for the three Irish bank officials who were recently jailed. Lonergan seized the opportunity to rail against a system that confines two or more prisoners in one cell, adding that every new prisoner is strip-searched, showered and clothed in prison uniform before the return of their own clothes. He remarked that while there are sound safety grounds for this admission policy, the "personal humiliation" is regrettable.
Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin objected, not persuasively, that the system is being steadily improved. Union spokesman Brendan Ogle then interjected to say far more bankers should be jailed, and when Marian attempted to expand the issue to a particular case, the Minister curtly replied he wasn't going there "because of the nature of it".
"It's because of the nature of it that we want to go into it," shot back Ogle witheringly. It was tense - the national conversation at its most engaging.
Some weeks back this column suggested moving Mooney Goes Wild (Radio 1) from its ludicrous late night slot to weekend mid-mornings. Lo and behold, it now goes out live at 10am Sundays, if only until the autumn. A small step in the right direction.