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Move down a gear for a retro groove

Morning radio can be grating. The news stories will probably be a bleak cocktail of strikes, natural disasters and the one about how Ireland is terminally banjaxed.

Meanwhile, the alternatives mainly comprise of chirpy morning crews who specialise in talking loudly about nothing more important than the length of Beyonce's nails, or who is murdering who on EastEnders.

However, amid the mayhem a little morning refuge is on offer from the easy listening 4FM.

In this context, ELO are not some terrorist organisation but a dinosaur rock band with retro tunes that will calm the nervous system.

Breakfast on 4 with Gareth O'Callaghan is not exactly ground breaking, but it is way more Zen than most of its wannabe competitors.

Apart from the music, they have a range of expert guests, but where they really excel is in their penchant for the innocent.

Last week, they had a 'huge response' to the question: Is Tesco right to ban people from shopping in their pyjamas?

This week, they were asking folks to text in with examples of misinterpreted song lyrics.

The woman who reads the news thought that Celine Dion's 'I believe that the heart does go on', was actually 'I believe the hot dogs will go on'. It's an easy mistake to make -- doesn't all her music sound exactly the same?

O'Callaghan & Co also regaled us with the news that there is a cat in a nursing home in America that can predict when the patients are about to die. The host presented this fact with an awesome credulity usually reserved for such artefacts as the Dead Sea Scrolls. And he clearly found it a lot funnier.

The way they place such a premium on this type of trivia is what is so intriguing about the show.

There was a time -- about 25 years ago -- when we would have been wowed by such a story. It was the kind of earth-shattering comedy revelation that made Steve Wright of BBC Radio 1 so popular in the 1980s.

As a teenager I would have been going around saying: Jaysus, did you hear the one about the cat in America?

Cleverly, 4FM has tapped into that same audience who are now a bunch of stressed-out adults in need of some easy-listening ambience.

There is also something quite retro about East Coast Radio's morning show with Laura Wood and Rob G; although on the day of the new city-centre speed limit they produced the most prescient text I have heard on the subject.

On Tuesday, one of their listeners pointed out that in order to maintain the speed limit of 30km/h she had to keep her eyes on the speedometer instead of the road.

However, this was the height of their current affairs insight. They mainly opt for a cosy combo of unthreatening pop and phone-in competitions.

There was Kids' Clues, which is the vaguest and most open-ended radio quiz I have ever heard. We were offered a young voice saying "Lots of people have them". The listener had to guess what the voice was referring to.

"Could be a lot of things," said Laura. You don't say -- although the answer probably wasn't common sense.

Later, they produced another baffling quiz where people had to guess a five digit number. The chances of success are probably only slightly less than winning the lotto. Yet the prize was only a weekend away with just ONE free meal.

All in all a community feel, with unrushed ambience, and a slow pace -- a bit like the traffic itself.

Breakfast on 4 with Gareth O'Callaghan 4FM, 6-9am weekdays Freshly Squeezed with Laura and Rob East Coast FM, 6-9am weekdays


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