Radio 1 opens first chapter of ‘The Book Show’

RTÉ is “cognisant” of online listenership, but makes programmes for FM audience

Journalist and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson, presenter of The Book Show

Journalist and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson, presenter of The Book Show


The Book Show, RTÉ Radio 1’s new, er, show about books and the “world of writing”, turns its first page this Saturday evening, with a celebration of Maeve Brennan (the Irish writer whose short stories appeared in New Yorker in the mid-20th century) and an interview with contemporary short story writer George Saunders.

The programme is presented by arts journalist Sinéad Gleeson and independently produced by Zoe Comyns, an award-winning radio drama writer and documentary maker and a former producer at Newstalk.

While some of the show’s natural constituency may well already be planning to click the “subscribe” button to the podcast rather than tune in at 7pm on a Saturday, programme-makers’ main focus is still on FM, says Lorelei Harris, editor of arts, features, drama and independent production for Radio 1.

“There can be no doubt, in the off-peak schedule, we are hugely dependent on the creation of a long-tail effect online. But the majority of our audience, for the majority of our slots, is still FM. There is no reason to think that that has changed,” she says.

“It may in the future, but it hasn’t thus far. So we make shows for FM. But we are very cognisant of the fact that we have a far wider reach than our FM audience.”

The Book Show replaces Off the Shelf, which was presented by Andy O’Mahony, who has retired. Harris believe arts and features get “a fairly good showing” on Radio 1 but she adds that “obviously, one would always want more”, with the return of a dedicated poetry slot on her schedule wishlist.