Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When I grow up, I want to be Claire Byrne

Those that know these things say that women don’t as a rule respond well to hearing other women’s voices on the radio. It seems that there is some strange aural dissonance which causes one female’s voice to grate on another’s hearing. Apparently the female ear is less tolerant of high pitch sounds and likes to have her radio coming with a lot more baritone sounds. Male presenters, it seems, send a subconscious acoustic pheromone wafting through the ether to catch the attention of the female audience.

This, if true, goes a long way to explaining why I find Orla Barry so irritating on Newstalk 106FM and why Gerry Ryan can vulgar his way through his mid morning 2FM slot completely unchallenged.

Every now and again however, we discover the exceptions which prove the rule. Claire Byrne and Brenda Power are two cases in point. Yours truly finds that both have altogether more pleasing radio voices. Maybe it is their husky tones, maybe a cute sound engineer has the base cranked to ten, whatever the reason I can’t help enjoying their programmes.

Claire Byrne has become a particular favourite of mine and I’m beginning to understand why. In addition to the palatable acoustics, I love Claire’s sassy attitude. This girl has an opinion and isn’t afraid to let you have it between the ears. And she won’t let lack of knowledge get in the way of her opinion. I find that I like this in a woman although I detest this trait in men.

Paired with the excellent (in a sports geek sort of way) Ger Gilroy, this doe-eyed doyen of radio breakfast shows delivers the goods. They’ve developed a good rapport, some would even say on-air chemistry, and have brought a breath of fresh air to what was becoming a very tedious radio time. (Things took a turn for the worst for morning radio when Marty Whelan was replaced on 2FM by two juvenile delinquents with attention deficit hyper-activity disorder and an painful line in boring radio chatter.)

Ostensibly, the dynamic Newstalk duo present news stories and current affairs in a two hander mode not unlike Moaning Ireland (RTE Radio 1). The reality is quite different though. Claire can’t help offering her (usually strong) opinion on the news story which she is presenting. Some weeks ago, she covered a story about the HSE moving a MRI scanner to a private hospital. Ms Byrne quickly became irate as she told the story and presumed that (a) the HSE were wrong to redeploy capital equipment (b) they were up to no good by giving this resource away to the private sector (c) they were screwing over the poor people who had toiled hard to fund raise to purchase the machine in the first place. She proceeded to vent a host of other criticisms of the HSE although there was no evidence to support any of her claims. Some days later, describing the arrest in London of a Dublin criminal who’d served time for the murder of Veronica Guerin, she found herself embroidering the news story with hearsay, gossip and/or her own opinion. Her co-presenter Gilroy found himself adding the words “alleged” and “is reported to have” in a scrambled attempt to avoid a libel suit.

Claire Byrne has revitalised my radio listening and not just because of her dulcet tones. She adds an air of breathless excitement to the morning news which other stations would do well to emulate. I’ve noticed that she also has a column in one of the Sunday newspapers (think it might be the Sunday Times, but I could be confusing that with other female thought leader, Sarah Carey). All this, brains and good looks, let’s hope she doesn’t start blogging or else the rest of us “speak first, think second” girls are done for.


(My advisor has told me to note that all the above is my opinion and not necessarily based on any fact or actual events. Descriptions may be laced with snide comment or prone to hyperbole which arise due to my intense jealousy of successful career women. Blankpaige apologises for any hurt which these groundless allegations may have unintentionally caused.)

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Blogger JL Pagano said...

My dear Paige, if tongue-in-cheekery ever becomes an Olympic sport, you'll be hand on heart up on the podium lip-syncing Amhran na bhFiann before anyone else gets a look in!

10:25 p.m., May 29, 2007  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I love Orla Barry. The pitch of her voice cuts through all the background rumble in my head. She lightens my day.
Whenever I listen just before the handover to Brenda Power, I find my preference confirmed: Brenda bores me with her 'authoritative' voice.
As for Claire Byrne, I'll listen more carefully. I don't care for any of those on at that time.
But the afternoon on Newstalk, that's a feast...
By the way, what do you think of the ad for radio that Moncrief does? Isn't it brilliant?
I forgot to say that the only time I rang a radio station with a view to saying something on air was during Brenda Power's show.

11:18 p.m., May 29, 2007  
Blogger John of Dublin said...

A good fun read. I haven't listened to Claire Byrne on radio. I can't stand Orla Barry's voice. But you've given me an idea for a blog...thanks!

11:33 p.m., May 29, 2007  
Anonymous Maman Poulet said...

Claire is not half as opinionated as Brenda - I can't stand BP - CB is definitely growing on me!

12:24 a.m., May 30, 2007  
Blogger cearta said...

Who's Ger Gilroy to your Claire Byrne?

3:37 p.m., May 30, 2007  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

JL, thanks for the backhanded compliment.

Omani, It's probably a Cork thing.

John of Dublin, loved your piece.

Maman Poulet, you are quite correct. Again.

Certa, I suppose JL would be the Ger Gilroy to my Claire Byrne!

12:11 a.m., May 31, 2007  
Blogger Una said...

Claire's column is in the Sunday Tribune

2:35 p.m., June 01, 2007  
Anonymous ainelivia said...

Add to the list of breathlessely excited women, at least seven more now residing in a wharehouse in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, now known as Bimbo Big Brother 8.

Would Claire do well there?

12:58 p.m., June 02, 2007  
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