Radio: Head to heads that just made you want to hear a woman’s voice
In the first week of Pat Kenny versus Seán O’Rourke, Irish stations should remember that life’s not all about men
Female-led television: Arena discussed the return of Tina Fey. Photograph: Chad Batka/New York Times
Contender, ready? Gladiator, ready? Three, two, one: radio wars! On Monday morning all ears were on Newstalk and RTÉ Radio 1 as Pat Kenny and Seán O’Rourke went head to head. In the red corner, Newstalk urged listeners to “move the dial” to The Pat Kenny Show (Monday-Friday). (Shouldn’t that be “turn the dial” or “press the button that has replaced your dial”?) In the blue corner, RTÉ did everything it could to remind the audience that Kenny was still haunting the Today with Seán O’Rourke studio (RTÉ Radio 1, Monday-Friday).
Going for a casual introduction, Kenny fluffed his opening links. For the first time ever he sounded nervous. O’Rourke was a little steadier, but the scaffolding around his freshly built show collapsed with one of Oliver Callan’s skits, slagging off Kenny along with other dodgy mimicking.
The only thing more awkward than Callan’s humourless radio stints is the forced laughter that presenters seem contracted to emit on their conclusion. RTÉ is hardly a stranger to self-reference, self-congratulation and self-satisfaction, but O’Rourke’s team should remember that talking about oneself is just a skip away from talking to oneself. Leave that to Kenny, who had his Newstalk colleague Ivan Yates lined up as an interview on his debut.
O’Rourke poker-faced with Hans Blix, but Kenny went all in with Bono. One finds big guns; the other is the big gun. Kenny chatted to the U2 man as if they happened to be in their back gardens at the same time, exchanging neighbourly pleasantries over the fence.
Kenny was remarkably hands off when questioning Bono about the Red campaign – Bono believes capitalism is Africa’s long-term way out of desolation; he might want to look closer to home to see how that’s getting on – and Edun, the clothing line of his wife, Ali Hewson, which has haemorrhaged money in the past yet is barrelling ahead with the noble cause of manufacturing in Africa.
Bono’s lifelong passion for and dedication to the continent resulted in informative chats about Ghana, and a tribute to Seamus Heaney was personal and sweet.
After day one on the radio-wars front line, which was the better show? You’d have to give round one to Newstalk.
Someone named Thomas rang Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, Monday-Friday) on Tuesday while Philip Boucher-Hayes was filling in for Joe Duffy. The subject was mortgage arrears. “Everyone’s got a sad story,” Thomas said, “but sad stories don’t mend things.” Thomas had lost a pension, was out of work for two years, and started volunteering to fill the time. No one looks at the bigger picture, he said, no one looks at their communities. It’s not often that something profound transcends the minutiae of moaning on Liveline, but Thomas had it, criticising people’s individualism and encouraging a broader approach.