Thursday 14 December 2017

Radio review: Sleeping with the enemy isn't so bad

Neil Delamere
Neil Delamere

Eilis O'Hanlon

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when Donald Trump's bid to become US President stopped being treated as a joke by Irish broadcasters; but when even playful shows such as Neil Delamere's Sunday Best start taking it seriously, it's obvious that a major shift has taken place.

Neil's guest last weekend was American political scientist Professor Tim White, and they had a wide-ranging discussion about Trump's chances of making it to the White House that wouldn't have been out of place on a more earnest news show.

White warned against placing too much faith in polls that made Hillary Clinton a certainty to beat the maverick Republican, a theme echoed on Monday's Today With Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One, as Mike McGeogh of the LA Times admitted that his fellow commentators had been spectacularly wrong in dismissing Trump's chances once and might be wrong again.

This, he surmised, was either because they spent too long hunched over laptops crunching data to spot real-life trends, or because they're now simply too out of touch to see how deeply fed up ordinary people are with being told what to do, think and say by their supposed betters.

The point was repeated in a different context on Today FM's Last Word on Wednesday, as Matt Cooper headed to London to discuss the prospects of Britain voting to leave the EU in the forthcoming in/out referendum. Reminding Matt how inaccurate the polls had been before the last UK election, financial analyst Louise Cooper (a self-professed undecided voter) suggested that the vote for Brexit might be much higher than those in the "metrosexual bubble" wanted to believe.

The show was sparky and unexpectedly entertaining, much better actually than most referendum debates on British radio right now; but Matt did seem unduly obsessed with asking his various guests, such as Katie Hopkins and George Galloway, how they felt at finding themselves on the same side as people whose politics they'd normally abhor.

Europe isn't a left/right issue. A similar "strange coalition" could be found on both sides in the Lisbon referendum in Ireland too, so why keep labouring the point?

Politics also came up on The Pat Kenny Show during Monday's long conversation with Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the influential Huffington Post, though her main reason for being on the phone was to talk about her new book.

The Sleep Revolution is a call to arms against the modern delusion that staying awake longer enables us "to find more time and get more done". It doesn't work, as she eloquently pointed out, but sleep is getting ever harder to find as "technology is becoming more and more invasive."

Her advice was refreshingly straightforward - people just need to start switching off their distracting array of electronic devices a bit earlier at night, and relearn how to sleep well. "There's nothing that the world is going to do to make it easier for us. It has to be up to us."

Sunday Independent

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