| 3.8°C Dublin

Never mind Kenny, bring on the radio feminists

'HOLY Sh*t!" So exclaimed Sean Moncrieff (twice), as he learned of the blockbusting radio news of the week, live on air. You know, about Pat Kenny galloping in the doors of Marconi House, on a unicorn, to declare himself Supreme Emperor of the Universe. Or something like that. I was only half-listening.

What I do know is that Twitter imploded. Then exploded. Then re-imploded, as people got hyperbolic about a slightly altered media landscape. But while the Kenny defection consumed public attention, less headline-grabbing (and welcome) changes had been happening on 2FM.

Lovers of gender homogeneity no doubt delight in the station's traditional weekday menu. Male hosts for breakfast. Followed by male hosts for lunch. Followed by (spot the pattern) male hosts for dinner, supper and midnight feasts. But, for the last two weeks, the station's usually jaded and lifeless brunchtime has been pleasantly spiced up by (Shock! Horror! Gasp!) a female voice. That of Louise McSharry, whose Summer With Louise show has engagingly filled the space temporarily vacated by Ryan Tubridy and Colm Hayes.


Format-wise, this was no reinvention of the wheel (not that it had any responsibility to be), but it showed that light-hearted filler and intelligent/incisive chat can happily co-exist, even on a station as populist and middle-of-the-road as 2FM. On Tuesday's show, Edel Coffey (a journalist and publicist for Hachette Ireland) told McSharry: "It's quite rare that you hear that kind of discussion on radio."

She was referring to an earlier conversation between McSharry and Susan Vasquez (editor of Stellar magazine) on the state of contemporary feminism. Specifically, on how certain high-profile young women (such as Katy Perry) refuse to define themselves as feminists, and on how the term itself has become "completely misunderstood" – now regrettably connoting, for many, something off-puttingly radical and kooky. Or (even) irrelevant.

As conversations about feminism go, it was modest, uncontentious, fairly run-of-the-mill. But when Edel Coffey (who spoke eloquently about the problematic term 'chick lit') called it "rare", she was still right.

It was rare to hear a female DJ given the chance to host a discussion about ANYTHING on 2FM (and it's far from the only offender). It was doubly rare for this discussion to be about feminism (and its importance). And it was triply rare (and refreshing) for the tone to be so unapologetic – a tone set by a host who kicked things off by simply (and forcefully) saying: "I'm Louise McSharry and... I am a feminist and... happy to call myself one."

Not everyone was happy. A (male) texter described feminism as a "three-headed monster", derided those women who "rant and rave", and suggested that he'd call any woman who claims she finds wolf-whistling demeaning "a liar to her face". He needn't worry. The boys will be back at base come Monday. The status quo will be restored. And all will be just as tedious as ever.

But what of the "boy" who definitely won't be returning to Montrose? "The guy hasn't died, you know," said Gay Byrne, of Pat Kenny, on Wednesday's Mooney, "He's only gone to another microphone." Finding complimentary things to say about the Mooney show can be challenging, but it was hard not to admire the eccentric composition of the panel they'd assembled to discuss Kenny's departure. Joining Gaybo, on a 'momentous' day for the national broadcaster, were Louis Walsh and Dustin. The Turkey.


Gaybo, despite what he'd just said, spoke funereally – of a torch being passed and all that melancholic jazz. Louis Walsh's main non-contribution was to refer to Miriam O'Callaghan as "the blonde girl". And Dustin? Well at least he punctured the hagiographic mood. Calling Kenny "that plank" ("Who poached him? Was it Coillte?"), suggesting he "brought new meaning to the word bland", and, in a slightly edgy moment, declaring "I just had no respect for him". Was this the voice of 'Dustin', or that of John Morrison – the man behind, or beneath, him?

Nor was it clear who was to be Kenny's replacement. Over on The Last Word, Matt Cooper asked Noel Curran (director-general of RTE) if he might "take the opportunity... to promote a woman into the schedule". The answer (basically) was an equivocal, carefully measured "Maybe". So don't hold your breath.