independent

Monday 22 April 2019

If you stare at your radio it's more watchable

Callan’s Kicks comes closer to truth than the journalistic spirit in the beleaguered station
Callan’s Kicks comes closer to truth than the journalistic spirit in the beleaguered station

Niamh O'Connor - Straight Talking

Oliver Callan is proof that RTE still has a pulse.

It's faint - Callan's Kicks is a Friday evening radio slot ­- but the satire comes closer to truth than the journalistic spirit in the beleaguered station.

Last Friday the mimic turned his attentions to The Ray D'Arcy show, joking that 'even if you stare at your radio, it's more watchable than the TV version.'

When you consider that D'Arcy's salary was hiked up to €450,000 a year, it's like the gravy-train memo - a recurring theme on the news agenda - doesn't apply to RTÉ.

But Callan's integrity needs backup.

So, why isn't the Primetime crack team of investigative journalists turning the mirror on the organisation the way he does?

Why haven't they scrutinised the salaries of the top-ten paid presenters as they would with any other semi-state body to ask if the public is getting value for money?

Why aren't they sending secret cameras in to meetings with their own executives to probe how the risible Amy Huberman drama Striking Out could be commissioned - twice? Why is news at weekends so predominantly driven by foreign stories?

Only the secret RTÉ producer who lit up Twitter in 2017 by revealing the fiefdoms and jobs-for-the-boys' mentality ever came close to Callan's scrutiny.

But the account - since deactivated - was condemned as 'profoundly disloyal' by RTÉ at the time. 'RTÉ are considering hiring a private investigator to find out who I am,' the secret producer tweeted. 'Consider that. The national broadcaster, using licence fee money, to track a whistleblower who is just trying to show what needs to change to save the organisation. How does RTÉ news view unmasking whistleblowers?'

With the culture in the organisation at risk of verging perilously close to a cult, the miracle is that Callan is commissioned at all.

Admirably obvious is that Callan is too talented to silence even if it must make for some uncomfortable lunchtime moments in the subsidised canteen.

Still, if the organisation rewarded actual talent, he would be given the Ray D'Arcy.

Or as he put it himself on Callan's kicks when mimicking D'Arcy, '…Still on air…why? I suppose people tend to leave it on in their kitchens when they go out to scare the burglars off.'

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