As repugnant as it is to broach the age-old issue of differential labor rates in the public and private sectors, listening to the Colm and Lucy Breakfast Show (Classic Hits, weekdays), it’s hard to avoid thinking that Commercial radio presenters have to work harder than their RTÉ peers. The duo of Colm Hayes and Lucy Kennedy are on the air for a four-hour marathon each morning, one more than their rivals on 2FM Breakfast. (And this show is hosted by a trio.) Granted, that beats a zero-hour contract in menial work as a gig, but even with most of the airtime devoted to old charts, that’s still a lot. bants for Hayes and Kennedy to pass.
If Kennedy is to be believed, it’s not just the hours that compare unfavorably with the national broadcaster. On Wednesday, she mocked her station’s ‘staff canteen’, dismissively describing it as ‘a room with a kettle’: it’s a far cry from the Montrose campus for the duo, who have both passed with 2FM. But if they harbor the desire of their former employer, there is no proof of that. The pair broke blocks at 6 a.m. in a blur of good humor and fun conversation, and kept the atmosphere lively throughout.
The show relies on their likable personalities. Kennedy’s television career, most notably her Living with Lucy television show, was based on her natural affability and mischievous irreverence. Hayes is also an amiable figure, possessing a broad grasp of the factoids of a day jock and an occasional urge to hold court. There’s just enough character shift to generate the required on-air chemistry, and enough ease (or perhaps age) to ensure it rarely gets too tiring: although the motive is relentless , it has none of the overworked frenzy of so much zoo radio.
It goes without saying that the subjects of conversation weigh at the bottom of the scale. On Wednesday, they tackle snoring — perhaps a relevant issue for anyone fresh out of bed, in fairness — by asking listeners to share their experiences, and even recordings of loud bed partners. Sure enough, clips of sniffling spouses are duly released, including one of Hayes himself, in the middle of a foghorn after a “particularly late night”. Kennedy’s voice has a cheerful cadence as she sympathizes with her co-host’s wife: “That’s terrible, God loves her.”
That’s about as serious as the procedures get. Otherwise, the menu includes Hayes thinking about the relative attractiveness of former US first ladies (he’s a fan of Michelle Obama but not Melania Trump) and Kennedy stating that, um, “checking your dog’s butt is very important” . Truth be told, that cheeky, chirping tune can become the same after a few hours, especially for anyone with a limited love of 1980s and 1990s pop hits. But otherwise, Hayes and Kennedy do a decent job. Their station gets its money’s worth, but listeners looking for a carefree start to the day won’t feel short-changed either.
When it comes to putting in the hours, fellow Classic Hits presenter Niall Boylan has never been a crook: For years he ran an afternoon phone show followed by a four-hour late iteration at night, five times a week. Having somewhat restricted his nightly duties, the host is less Stakhanovist in his output these days, but judging by his daytime schedule (the Niall Boylan Show, Classic Hits, weekdays), he has lost nothing. its capacity to provoke, even to offend.
The contentious subjects are his business. On Wednesday, prompted by actor Johnny Depp’s case against ex-wife Amber Heard, Boylan asks whether domestic violence against men is under-reported in Ireland. “Men are probably the stronger of the sexes,” he says, but also thinks “women can be quite controlling.” He speaks to Pat, from a domestic violence support group, who thinks men in abusive relationships with women are reluctant to come forward, while adding that “a woman will always be seen as a damsel in distress”.
Boylan may be right that such abuse is more common than expected – he also posts a message from a man recounting Garda’s indifference after reporting he was physically assaulted by his female partner – but it makes the uncomfortable listening. But that’s probably what the host wants. While Boylan points out that he regularly discusses the issue of men abusing women, he is an enthusiastic proponent of airing all sides of an argument. “That’s all that’s wrong with politics and society today,” he said at one point, “Just because you disagree with them doesn’t mean you silence them.”
But the debate also requires a range of opinions, and in this case key things are left unsaid, such as the disparity of lethality in domestic violence: violent men kill women. Additionally, the show’s rugged style seems to disproportionately appeal to callers like the man who revels in “snowflakes having a river of tears.”
In such moments, the program veers dangerously close to the toxic format of American radio, described by cult American musician Steve Albini as “right-wing assholes calling other right-wing assholes”. But Boylan goes beyond these caricatures. His commitment to freedom of expression has its limits: he opposes hate speech. “I believe you have to be responsible for what you say,” he says. Nor is his cause helped by the fact that his gruff timbre sounds more naturally attuned to indignation than to empathy.
Still, Boylan’s top priority is creating on-air heat, regardless that the resulting conversations often sound like angry social media threads. Discussing whether 16-year-olds should get the vote, he seems perplexed when his interlocutors all oppose the idea. “Is no one going to argue for this?” he asks himself, falsely exasperated. When a caller suggests that teenagers can only vote if they are educated about political issues, his host wonders how this could be determined. “I don’t know,” the caller humbly admits. “I didn’t mean to kill your argument so soon,” Boylan replies, “I apologize.” No wonder he’s sorry – if people aren’t arguing, he’s not doing his job.
Radio moment of the week
Northern comedian Patrick Kielty shows his serious side on Sunday with Miriam (RTÉ Radio 1), as he speaks honestly and thoughtfully about the legacy of The Troubles. His shrewd questions aside, O’Callaghan gives Kielty time to remember his father’s murder by loyalists – he talks about “the fine line between things being incredibly ordinary and drastically changing” – and his own treatment. of the event: “Do I really want to take my foot off the cellar door and see what happens?” Kielty talks about the compromises needed for peace, but he’s ultimately positive, embracing such ambiguities: “These things are messy and maybe it’s our job to navigate through that.” An eloquent, thoughtful and compelling interview.