Milking the moment with bare cheeks and the bum's rush
RADIO:A couple of Kerry men made the most of their naked ambition for national publicity
This week the radio waves were alive with the sound of men with strong Kerry accents trying to justify highly irresponsible gestures as legitimate deeds in the local interest. Wednesday’s edition of The John Murray Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) was typical of broadcasters’ response to the naked publicity stunts emanating from the Kingdom, as the presenter rewarded dangerous foolishness with more airtime for the attention-seeking culprit.
Trying to explain away his outrageous actions to Murray, Kerry native Jason O’Sullivan exhibited a shameless candour, cheerfully admitting it had all been an exercise in gaining exposure, literally and metaphorically. As it happened, O’Sullivan had far less reason to be embarrassed by his behaviour than those on Kerry County Council who this week voted in favour of rural drink-driving, though his own feat of striding nude through the snow-capped slopes of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks was hardly prudent.
O’Sullivan’s frosty striptease, undertaken to promote his local walking club in Glenbeigh and immortalised in a widely circulated photograph, was grist to the mill for Murray, who treated the matter in the earnestly analytical style that is his show’s trademark. “I feel your cold,” he said with a chuckle as he introduced his guest. After knowingly describing the view in the photograph as “spectacular”, he clarified to his guest that there was “no comparison between your bum and the majestic Macgillycuddy’s Reeks”, lest anyone not catch the subtle humour.
It was a good-natured but gossamer-thin segment, one to which Murray, who regularly organises walks under the auspices of the show, added a disturbing coda. “We’re all for new ideas here. I might lead a naked walk in Co Kerry some time soon,” he said. “I know it might offend people, but would it be against the law?”
One can only hope so. As it was, five minutes on nude hillwalking was a stretch.
But for all that his shtick occasionally dipped into witless 19th-hole banter, Murray helmed a show that underlined his solid talents as a broadcaster.
The presenter’s interview with the animator Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, whose short film has been nominated for an Academy Award, seemed in danger of becoming a bland chat, with the overjoyed young guest speaking mainly in upbeat cliches. Murray rescued the situation by inviting Cronin O’Reilly’s father, Patrick, to join the conversation on the phone from Kerry.
Soon the item took on the gently joshing atmosphere of a family occasion, fleshing out the young film-maker’s back story and drawing her out of her shell. When Murray said he would put €5 on the film winning the Oscar, Cronin O’Reilly was cheekily incredulous: “Only a fiver, John?”
Murray was similarly adept during an item on people who decided not to have children, covering the topic in an unpatronising, adult manner. When one guest, Vivienne, said that ongoing mental-health issues were a factor in her decision, Murray tackled the matter head on. It was welcome proof that Murray’s mix of light discussions, human-interest tales and novelty items need not be a blokey parade of forced jollity.