Sunday 20 January 2019

There's a secret to success on the airwaves, and Ray certainly knows what it is

Ray D'Arcy
Ray D'Arcy

Sarah Carey

Coping with change is never easy. With Ray D'Arcy's wife Jenny Kelly and co-producer and presenter Mairead Farrell leaving his show on Today FM, all would have changed for him.

As a radio presenter myself, I know how important it is to have a good relationship between producer and presenter.

When I lost my long time producer last year, it took months to find a new team and settle down. It was very difficult, and if you're a rival radio station, it's the perfect time to put in an offer for a big star.

The 'star' value is what this is all about. In the work place, a person's value isn't about the importance of the work they do, but how much money they can make for someone else.

If half the radio stations in Ireland closed down tomorrow (and some of them should, because there are too many not making money), life would go on for the rest of the country.

But if rubbish collection ceased tomorrow, within weeks we'd have a national crisis. There'd be rats, disease, pavements overflowing with refuse and an awful stink about the place.

But rubbish collectors are paid less than 10pc of Ray D'Arcy's new salary - rumoured to be as much as €500,000.

He's "worth it" because the cabal of advertising agencies who control the revenue flowing into radio stations believe that he'll attract listeners.

Whoever brings in the most listeners, brings in the most advertising revenue, so they get the most money. It's a simple sum.

What interests me, as someone struggling to learn the craft of radio presentation, is what makes a great radio star?

The influencing factors are split three ways. The first is talent, and D'Arcy is talented.

What I've always admired about him is that he comes across as completely genuine and open. You really feel like you're getting the real him, and not a contrived show-off version of someone he'd like to be.

The other factor is discipline and determination. The great stars make it sound easy, but I was shocked by how long it took me to relax - and I'm still not there after four years in the job.

I still hear myself asking double questions; interrupting people at the wrong time; forgetting to ask the one big question; forgetting to repeat people's names. Basic stuff.

My only consolation is that I hear the 'stars' make the same mistakes too. Anyone who's good at the job has done so because they listen back to themselves constantly and are ruthlessly self-critical.

You can't rely on anyone else for criticism - everyone in showbusiness assures everyone else they're great.

But the final issue is the loyalty of the employer.

You see, no one, no matter how good they are, is going to get anywhere without a good employer being willing to put a good team behind them and then relentlessly promoting the show.

There's no point being great if listeners aren't regularly reminded you exist. Today FM did all that and more with Ray.

The team has just gone through a natural life cycle and a new team will be born in RTE. The experts say it takes a show two years to settle down and RTE has enough experience to know this and get behind him.

The challenge for Today FM will be to come up with a 'star' that will please the advertisers.

Personally I'd love to see Alison Curtis, a likeable, intelligent woman, whose currently filling-in for Ray get the nod.

I hope they'll get behind her and give her a chance. Because ultimately, stars are not born - they are made.

Herald

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