Friday, July 14, 2006

New Mantra - same as the old mantra

Before I begin, I have to say that (yet again) RTE Radio One appears to have scored an own goal in the recent radio transfers. (trust me on this football theme, it’s going somewhere). Having decided to dispense with the services of the excellent John Kelly (Mystery Train) and the always interesting Myles Dungan (Rattlebag), the station has proven what we suspected/feared. RTE Radio One obviously sees its future in personality-driven tabloid talk radio. I’m going to switch over to Lyric FM so that I can continue to be musically educated by Mr Kelly. I’ll probably start looking for podcasts from the BBC to get my arts and culture fix.

The signing of Eamon Dunphy to host a chat show that isn’t focused on sport or current affairs seems to be the height of RTE ambition. Now anyone who has checked out the Blankpaige knows that she’s come to have a sneaking regard for the former Millwall hoofer. Dunphy is a good broadcaster, not a great broadcaster. He is of limited technical ability and gets by on the strength of personality and his willingness to graft. Pretty much like his playing career. But there is, on the face of it, little to differentiate him from Joe Duffy, Gerry Ryan, Pat Kenny and all those late night jocks on 98FM who work taxi drivers up into a frenzy of rage.

Last night, I caught the husky tones of Brenda Power on Newstalk. I think she might have been filling in for gorgeous George Hook. Now I'm of the view that women are naturally disadvantaged compared with men, when it comes to radio presenting. There seems to be two particular reasons for this. The majority of day time listeners are women and women generally prefer to listen to a male voice. Also, radio stations seem either deliberately or as an artefact of the broadcasting process, accentuate the bass tones. There is probably some technical name for this but the consequences are that only deep throated women sound good on radio.


At the risk of being called a raving lesbian feminist again (you know who you are and you won't rise me this time!), I have to say I was very very impressive with her. She was interesting, engaging, articulate and self-deprecating. She struck up a brilliant conversation with the sports guy (Ger Gilroy) on the question “Is Zinedine Zidane a new man?”

We’ve had the new sensitive man and the return of the lad (not to mention the emergence of the ladette). We’ve had the metrosexual a la David Beckham. Now we’ve Bloke Coke and the Menaissance. Faced with the prospect of equality of the sexes and the increasing marginalisation of the Father figure, men are going back to caveman basics and are asserting their rights to burp, belch and be lecherous.

Apparently, Mr Zidane’s explanation for his violent conduct in the World Cup Final was that he was defending his women folk. This wasn’t mindless thuggery, he was provoked by Materratsi. The Italian, not to be outdone, proffered his own understanding of the importance of women having lost his own mum at an early age. Give me a break lads! Time was when a sneaky Italian was a sneaky Italian and a violent Frenchman was a violent Frenchman.

But back to the excellent Brenda Power. "Is the essence of football not about discipline and controlled aggression", she enquired. "It's about a magical moment of great beauty," the sports guy countered. But her piece de resistance was when she confessed to being secretly flattered when a bloke chivalrously walks on the outside of the footpath. Of course this was just a subtle and successful ploy to get Gilroy to point out that Zidane was no renaissance man simply a Gallic hooligan!

If you are listening Newstalk Director of Programming, you could do a lot worse than signing Brenda up for a full time gig. Any one who can turn a routine football foul into a studied sociological analysis would, I’m sure, do wonders with payments to politicians, the M50, bedblockers, SSIA's and Northern politics. Of course. it struck me that RTE Radio One fill in their pompous talk jock (Ryan, Kenny) holiday absences with more of the same (McGurk). I know that one show is no basis for selection but I did wonder why no-one in Montrose thinks it worth considering Ms Power.

You see picking a radio DJ’s is just like picking a football team. You have to have a game plan, stick to it and not be distracted by the cries from the terraces. Supporters follow you not because you are successful but because you entertain (and because you entertain, you become successful). RTE Radio seems to be permanently managed by people who don’t seem to understand public service broadcasting. Like a manager whose own playing career was prematurely ended, they seem unable to spot and manage obvious talent.

As I write this post, I want to go off on so many tangents. Time for a discussion on feminism and the new man, the real answer to public service broadcasting, what makes a good broadcasting voice and where does the thinking person go now for radio entertainment.

6 Comments:

Blogger Fence said...

You almost make me wish that I'd listened to the radio today :) But I was too busy meandering through town enjoying an afternoon off work.

5:47 p.m., July 14, 2006  
Anonymous Sinéad said...

Totally agree about Brenda Power, I've listened to her a couple of times this week and really enjoyed it. I heard her talking to a guy she disagreed with and even when she's arguing and making a strong counter point she has a wonderful manner (love the voice too). All round it's very listenable.

And is it just me or does George Hook always sound like he's slightly drunk?

Am already looking forward to John's Lyric show, it should be great.

7:12 p.m., July 14, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

If that's what listening to Brenda Power did for you, I can't wait to hear her myself.

Now that I see Sinead agree with you, I am even more keen to tune in to her.

Shouldn't John Kelly have been on Lyric all along? His show seems to fit in well with some other fine evening broadcast on that station.

I hope someone rises to your speculation about what the technology of radio does to the voice. I had an ah-ha moment when I read that.

May I quibble with "a routine football foul" as a description of ZZ's action. Surely it was anything but routine? I don't think anyone had seen anything like it from a footballer before. The way he carefully avoided knocking out the Italian's teeth... the way he carefully avoided marking his own face...

As for George Hook and drink: almost the only thing he didn't do as a dreadful husband and father was to drink. Indeed he sounds very off the rails...

5:01 p.m., July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Dervla said...

I think Brenda Power is a very good journalist but I find her radio voice a little bit irritating. Am alone in wondering why RTE are investing so much in Derek Mooney?

6:12 p.m., July 25, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

If I had the technical capacity and blog traffic, I'd do one of those polls on Brenda and her broadcasting voice.

I suppose distinctive voices tend to elicit a strong positive or negative reaction. Henec our radio stations are filled with bland West Coast Jocks.

9:53 a.m., July 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not alone about Derek Mooney. He's atrocious! Just awful broadcaster, like something from another age. A kind of horrific Gay Byrne light, without the charm, intelligence or instinct for radio. Derek is without doubt the worst thing to happen to Radio 1, but typifies their ridiculous insistence on giving boring, safe, cautious broadcasters such a chance. He never sounds interested in any of his interviews, he sounds like all he could care about is himself. And such little intelligence! Why does RTE think this is what we want? The future is not with them.

2:12 p.m., December 09, 2006  

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