Una Mullally: After DJ Leo, how about ‘Enda Meets’ and ‘Nooney Goes Wild’?

Varadkar radio gig could be a first step in politicians taking over the Irish airwaves

 Leo Varadkar: Criticised by Willie O’Dea for accepting a guest slot on RTÉ’s “Late Date”, the Minister cooly tweeted: “Ah chill Willie . . . You’re most welcome to ring in a request if you like.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Leo Varadkar: Criticised by Willie O’Dea for accepting a guest slot on RTÉ’s “Late Date”, the Minister cooly tweeted: “Ah chill Willie . . . You’re most welcome to ring in a request if you like.” Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Friday was a big day for Irish radio. Anton Savage parted ways with Today FM by making a dramatic statement detailing a breakdown with management. Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, always ahead of the curve, is busy with his new podcast. And Leo Varadkar was announced as a guest presenter on RTÉ Radio 1’s Late Date.

The latter announcement was met with a scathing response from Willie O’Dea. The veteran Fianna Fáiler was not happy with DJLeo.

“He has crafted a role for himself as resident chat show panellist and a sort of celebrity political commentator, where he muses on how terrible things are, and how something should be done. When it comes to actual political accountability and having a vision for the department he is responsible for, he is nowhere to be seen.”

This from a politician who once rang Liveline to talk about the Rubberbandits. But perhaps O’Dea was exacting jealous revenge for his own brief, less-high-profile gig as a copresenter of the morning show on Limerick’s Live 95fm. That was back in April 2008, when none of us had a care in the world.

More likely, as is always the case with Opposition politicians, O’Dea was leaping at the chance to issue a press release about something – anything! – condemning a Government politician, in the hope it would get him a bit of attention. That’s how these things work, after all.

Leo, already settling into the hip parlance of DJs, responded on Twitter (naturally). “Ah chill Willie. It’ll be the week after Xmas & the graveyard shift. You’re most welcome to ring in a request if you like.”

Since Varadkar said he would be inviting requests, that throws up an interesting point of interaction between the public and politicians: “Hey Leo, can you give a shout out to the sixth-years listening in Tralee and an extra €5 on the dole please. And play some Rihanna as well.”

More broadly, however, Leo’s upcoming presenting stint poses the potential for Irish politicians initiating a wide-scale takeover of the Irish airwaves. Surely these men and women of the people, with plenty of propensity for nonstop banter and an inability to pass a microphone without passing comment, would enjoy such access to Irish radio stations?

RTÉ, constantly in flux, tightening belts and outsourcing departments, could offer an mutually beneficial arrangement for a new era of presenting talent to come on stream:

Enda Meets: Taking over from Miriam O’Callaghan, this new flagship interview show on Saturday mornings features a unique interview format that features no actual interviews. Instead, the Taoiseach details men and women he has met on Merrion Square/in Athlone/Ballina/Terminal 2 who happen to offer the precise anecdote he needs to endorse a very specific policy decision. Bring on the PPI Radio Awards.

Drivetime with Shane Ross. The Minister for Transport crowdsources views from (non-cycling, non-public-transport-taking) commuters as to how to actually do this dastardly post he has found himself in. Answers on a postcard, folks.

Mourning Ireland: A rotating cast of AAA-PBP TDs offer an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of everything wrong with the country while failing to offer any realistic solutions on how to fix anything. Talk is cheap, after all.

World Report: Jimmy Deenihan finds a new audience to regale about his ginormous impact as a minister for the arts and captivates with tales from foreign shores as he sails the seven seas in search of the diaspora. This veritable Ferdinand Magellan of emigration documents the experiences of Irish emigrants with Darwinian dedication, in his favourite format: an uninterrupted hour-long speech.

Nooney Goes Wild: Michael Noonan explore his unknown world of people actually not earning more than €70,000-plus a year, unable to buy a new-build family home and not considering emigration as a lifestyle choice. Hear Noonan go on his own personal journey, an anthropological exploration to find Irish people who actually exist outside the Kildare Street square mile.

Breakfast Republic on 2f: Hosted by the cool dudes of the Sinn Féin front bench. Hear Eoin Ó Broin count down the pop chart with sidekick Pearse Doherty.

The Mattie Squad: Mattie McGrath takes over from Marty Whelan’s Marty Squad. This could be an Operation Transformation-type affair, wherein Mattie transforms a group of voters from thinking he’s definitely still a Fianna Fáiler into absolutely believing his political ideologies are completely independent. It would be a tough gig, but if anyone could do it, it would be Mattie.

The Last Word on Today FM with Stephen Donnelly: The Wicklow upstart has something to say about anything, anyone, anytime, as long as he gets the last word in.

Rattlebag: exclusively hosted by members of the 25th Seanad. Unfortunately, as part of RTÉ cost-cutting measures, this will be broadcast exclusively in-house with no other listeners, although no one will tell them that.

As you can see – and perhaps will soon hear – the possibilities are endless. For now, though, we will have to see how DJLeo fares before deciding who else might settle into the type of rigorous political commentary that is consistently Off the Ball.

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