Wardrobes for radio?


WE’VE ALL had days of wardrobe malfunction, which usually go blessedly unrecorded. Not so if you’re on the telly, however, which may explain why most broadcasters stick to the conservative end of the sartorial spectrum. But while detractors snark about those who might euphemistically be described as having “a wardrobe for radio”, lately some eye-catching on-screen clobber has been garnering a new fan base, writes FIONA McCANN

Take Paul Cunningham’s hat (pictured). Last week he appeared on an RTÉ news report wearing what has been described as a “woolly pancake”, an “Aran Smurf’s hat” and “stylish, in a French pastry kind of way” during an online discussion. In fact, the hat had barely disappeared from the airwaves before a Facebook page appeared, dedicated to the accessory in question. Within hours, the page had over 1,000 fans, some of whom went on to organise a meet-up outside Government Buildings, wearing unconventional headgear in the hope of bumping into Cunningham.

Cunningham responded to the hat mania on Twitter with the news that his coveted head cover came from “Pakistan’s tribal areas”.

The RTÉ environment correspondent’s jaunty headpiece came hot on the heels of weather presenter Jean Byrne’s Christmas Day gúna deas (pictured), a slinky silver number that reportedly brought much festive cheer to the male members of her audience.

While that hat and that dress have done wonders for their wearers’ name recognition, who can really take the credit for their savvy sartorial choices? According to RTÉ spokesperson Carolyn Fisher, the State’s news reporters get some clothing counsel, though there are no Trinny-and-Susannah-style dictats about what not to wear. “There are no absolute black and white dos and don’ts,” says Fisher, “but between the newsroom and RTÉ wardrobe, there would be guidance. The main consideration would be that the clothes wouldn’t be a distraction.”

Putting together your on-camera clobber can be costly, which is why many of the news reporters get some financial assistance to help kit them out for all occasions. “They would get a clothing allowance, and particularly a winter clothing allowance because they would be expected to report in all kinds of weather, whether it’s in sub-zero temperatures outside Government Buildings or standing in the middle of flooding in Galway,” says Fisher.

Other rules apply to those who are studio-based, which include keeping in mind set colours, technical considerations such as lighting, and calendar dates such as Christmas Day or St Patrick’s Day, which allow a more festive approach. And woe betide the weather presenter who dons electric blue for their reports. “If they do they will disappear into the screen behind them.”