Timeline: O’Rourke and Kenny head to head

More female voices would have been good

Seán O’Rourke with first guest, writer Edna O’Brien, at the Radio Centre in RTE  for his first day presenting the Today with Seán O’Rourke radio programme. Photograph: Frank Miller

Seán O’Rourke with first guest, writer Edna O’Brien, at the Radio Centre in RTE for his first day presenting the Today with Seán O’Rourke radio programme. Photograph: Frank Miller


10am Kenny starts his Newstalk debut by promising “a special show for those who have moved the dial”, referring to the station’s ubiquitous advertising campaign. His first guest, Bono, in a recorded interview, did bring a bit of big-name pizzazz to the opening segment, but little else of much interest. The guest and host traded kind words about Seamus Heaney before moving on to hunger and poverty in Africa. Bono then talked about his wife, his daughter and his band in the 25-minute piece. By the time it wrapped up, it had gone on at least a quarter of an hour too long.
10.30 Next up was a solid current affairs piece with joint managerial body general secretary Ferdia Kelly, who gave his reaction to the new regulations on school admissions.
10.40 The strongest segment of the show saw Newstalk’s prodigal broadcaster Ivan Yates recounting the poor strategic decisions that ruined his Celtic Bookmakers business and led to his subsequent exile in the British bankruptcy system. Yates, who will return to the station later this week, outlined the loneliness and despair he felt in Wales, saying he wished he had been dead on two occasions.
11.05 In a wide-ranging interview, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin discussed Irish schools, rumours about a return to the Vatican for him, gay marriage and abortion, the new pope and the dwindling number of clergymen in Ireland.
11.45 Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin defended the role of the economic management council. An interview with a minister was familiar territory for Kenny.
After two hours broadcasting, the dearth of female contributions on Newstalk was striking. The final half hour was taken up with a segment on Irish Traveller enclaves in the US and, later, a discussion on infertility with an expert from the Blackrock Clinic. So seven guests, all male.
O’Rourke said it was good to be back on Radio 1 as intended but not quite as expected, before opening with an interview with author Edna O’Brien – his only female guest. She spoke about Seamus Heaney and read one of his poems. Wisely the segment was kept under 10 minutes.
10.15 While Bono talked Africa on Newstalk, Hans Blix, chief UN arms inspector for Iraq from 2000 to 2003, was on RTÉ saying the UN Security Council ought to make the decision on military intervention in Syria, not the US.
10.30 A short sketch from Oliver Callan poked fun at the radio battle between O’Rourke and Kenny. This, presumably, has something to do with the “light dusting of fun” we have been promised in the promos.
10.35 A 20-minute interview with the new Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt covers Seamus Heaney, the GAA and the Irish rugby team. Schmidt said his son had become a passionate Dublin supporter and praised the athleticism of GAA players. The segment felt a bit more forced from O’Rourke who struggled to create a comfortable rapport with his guest.
11am After the news bulletin at the top of the hour, O’Rourke seemed to enjoy the extended sport with Des Cahill where they sifted through the embers of the Kerry v Dublin match in the company of Des Cahill, Dara Ó Cinnéide and Jason Sherlock.
11.15 Niall O’Dowd and John McColgan filled the next 15 minutes talking about the merger of their diaspora websites. The show then wrapped up half an hour early to go to coverage of Heaney funeral.