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Tom and Gerry's pick of the papers

Both Tom Dunne and Gerry Ryan spend the first 25 minutes of their shows reviewing the papers and generally yakking on. It's easy, cheap and it doesn't require any thought, yet it does get things going. It also fills time -- a bit like time-wasting tactics in football when the players 'see out' time by keeping the ball at the corner flag.

But what does it say about each of them -- are the stories that they pick revealing of their nature?

On Monday, Tom Dunne kicked off his news trawl with the remarkable story that Bertie Ahern doesn't have any religious conviction per se. Tom was particularly taken with the news that the former Taoiseach admitted to not going to confession for 40 years.

"What's he got to hide?" asked Dunne. There was something in the way that he asked the question that suggests subversion without stating anything.

This uncanny ability to cut through without alienating anyone is part of his great strength. You never see Dunne as anything other than a sympathetic voice. His pan-gender appeal would indicate that he is closer to post-modern new man, but there is also a strong sense of the football-loving, beer-swilling couch slouch.

Interestingly, another of his chosen newspaper reports was the claim that Irish men are struggling with modern-day chivalry. Allegedly, many Irish women would prefer Valentine's Day poetry rather than love accessories such as chocolates or crotch-less panties.

Fewer than 50pc of men try to write it, and some 6pc pass off other people's poetry as their own.

What is so intriguing about Dunne is where he falls: is he part of the 6pc, is he the chivalrous poet with lovely words, or is he the guy whose ideal woman is replaced by thoughts of a rasher sandwich at four in the morning?

Such is the unisex appeal of the man that he is possibly all three.

Reflecting his audience, Gerry Ryan had a strong female theme to his news stories.

Apparently, women under 50 are not automatically included in the free breast-cancer screening programme. This despite the evidence that there is a marked increase in women in their 40s developing the illness, and it didn't impress Gerry.

"I think it is outrageous," said Gerry sounding like a sister. Gerry's interest in the ladies was again in evidence when he chose to report on the story of many-timed Toni, the long-suffering wife of footballer John Terry, who

was photographed in her smalls on a Dubai beach. There was no real point as to why it was picked as worthy of a news item, and one imagines that it was an excuse for Gerry to admire a young one.

He also kept focus on the feminine form with the story about a host of models, including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, posing naked. This also seemed to be devoid of any meaningful news.

To be fair, Gerry also covered a wide range, and rather than the wry and ironic tone of his rival, the RTE broadcaster took a panoramic sweep with stories as diverse as NAMA, and the Muslim man in Ireland who is demanding that the state legally recognises his two marriages.

He does so in a presidential manner that incorporates social commentary, intellect and insight, all delivered with the pomposity of a Tridentine bishop. It is clear that Ryan is confident he has a very important voice.

The real Dunne, on the other hand, is yet to emerge, but this one will do perfectly well in the meantime.

Tom Dunne on Newstalk, 9-midday The Gerry Ryan Show RTE2 9-midday


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