Radio: Summertime, and the living ain’t easy for Tubridy and co

The seasonal news lull is certainly a challenge for talk-radio hosts, but last week’s items sank like a saggy mattress

Mattress Mick, who was hailed by a desperate Tubridy as “the stuff of legend”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Mattress Mick, who was hailed by a desperate Tubridy as “the stuff of legend”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Sat, Jun 21, 2014, 01:00

The sunshine may be giving the country a much-needed fillip, but not everyone welcomes the summer. Ryan Tubridy (2FM, weekdays), for one, bemoans the season’s arrival, as he attempts to transform a thin bill of fare into something more substantial.

On Monday the presenter talks to Catherine, who has phoned in with a tip for shooing flies out of bedrooms. As the caller painstakingly explains that turning off a bedside lamp and turning on a hall light prompts the insect to exit, Tubridy’s engagement with the subject palpably wanes, as does the average listener’s will to live.

Summoning all his reserves of professional enthusiasm, he dutifully asks how long it takes for the fly to leave, but he’s unable to suppress the cri de coeur welling deep within. “You’d never guess it’s summer,” he blurts out.

Quite. The seasonal news lull is an occupational hazard for talk-radio hosts. Reading the newspapers on Tuesday, Tubridy again remarks on the paucity of stories. Going by some of this week’s items, his anxiety is well founded.

Monday’s show has Tubridy hailing one of his guests as an “icon” and “the stuff of legend”. Given that such terms have been devalued in an age of pointless celebrity, one doesn’t hold great hopes for what is to come. Even so, for Tubridy to puff a bedding retailer in such extravagant terms smacks of desperation.

His interview with the Dublin businessman Michael Flynn, aka Mattress Mick, is much as one might expect from a conversation with a salesman whose reputation rests on an extrovert manner and long hair: its course has run long before its 10 minutes is up. Flynn seems an affable character, but tales of hugging female customers and lying on beds alongside prospective buyers are not the stuff of legend, nor even of mild diversion. That Tubridy is reduced to asking whether Flynn is a music fan (he’s not) suggests the presenter knows the item is running on fumes.

The frustrating thing is that Tubridy is well able to produce arresting radio with the right material. On Wednesday he talks to Nate Phelps, estranged son of the late Fred Phelps, the homophobic American preacher who picketed the funerals of US servicemen.

The conversation paints a riveting picture of a cowed, brainwashed family ruled by a manipulative and abusive patriarch, with Phelps’s clear-eyed account sharpened by the presenter’s astute questioning.

It would be nice to think that, come winter, Tubridy’s show will feature many more such items. But on past experience, not to mention 2FM’s ever more frenetic direction, perhaps you shouldn’t get your hopes up.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.
From Monday 20th October 2014 we're changing how readers sign-in to comment, click here for more information.