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Has video killed the radio star?

Radio is a part of my life. It is a part of a lot of Irish peoples' lives. I am a presenter with multi city station Classic Hits 4fm and I have done stints on many pirates down the years. Sitting in a padded room with a box of CDs and talking in to a microphone may not be everyones' cup of tea but ask anyone in radio and they can't explain the buzz, the thrill of being on air. The interaction from callers, giving away tickets, making peoples day is what being on air is all about. Radio is a one on one medium to which we can engage with unlike TV. Ireland has one of the highest radio listenerships per head of any population in world. Simply; We like radio in this country. It's diverse and we get a lot of news from radio. Be it our local stations our national stations or even the excellent quality from community stations like NEAR FM there is a vast amount to choose from. We also like our radio personalities too. It makes the news if a presenter leaves his gig or defects to a rival station. Recently RTE Presenter Joe Duffy purchased a picture from the site, we got talking about radio, RTE and about Dublin.

I started by asking Joe what has been the highlights of his years presenting 'Liveline'.

Joe

'Every week brings something quite new on Liveline, but one of the more memorable moments was when we recieved a call from America, a woman who had been in a Mother and Baby home, she had made a life for herself in the US and she had heard that one of the women she had grown up with in the home had died and had been buried in a communal grave with no individual headstone. Her name was Margeret Bullen who was the longest resident in that home. We then recieved a call from a woman called Samantha Long who said Margeret Bullen was my mother and I didn't know she was dead. The had met their mother, they knew the circumstances but they had been adopted or fostered out which led a few weeks of talking about these homes and since then Samantha has been a campaigner for people who were in the Magdalen Laundries and Mother and Baby homes. More recent stories on Liveline were of Michael and Kathleen Deveraux who were seperated on going in to a nursing home; both had applied for the Fair Deal option, the home said yes to Michael and no to Kathleen. The day after Michael went in to the home Kathleen had a fall and ended up in hospital. They have been 63 years together and never seperated and within 10 minutes of making the call to Liveline the powers that be had Kathleen in the same nursing home the following afternoon. It was a memorable Liveline topic because of the voice of Michael Deveraux and the love he portrayed on air between the two of them was palpable.

 

Mike

What makes Liveline capture peoples ears?

Joe

'Our crew are very aware that we (Radio 1) has been news heavy for most of the morning and the crew, a small brilliant crew lead by Aongus Mcanally look for something different for the programme. We feel our job is to give a platform, a voice to people who don't have a voice, we try and get a good mix, sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't'.

Mike

What career advice would you give someone starting out in radio?

Joe

'The first thing I would say is if you want to be a journalist, be a journalist, if you want to be a radio presenter, be a radio presenter. People often ask me 'How I get in to to RTE?' I don't know is the answer, I say to people, go to your local station, go to your local newspaper. Start learning the craft as it were. Interview people, record it on your iPhone, send it in to stations. Start at the bottom.

Mike

The negativity that sometimes is directed at Liveline, How do you deal with it?

Joe

'Aren't we being talked about?? My mother said to me once 'you are never as good as they say you are and you are never as bad as they say you are'. When I'm in bad form I can take the bad stuff badly. When I'm in good form I say to myself at least people are engaged in the show and that is what it's about. The great thing about Ireland is that radio still does engage people in a national conversation. We still have a national discourse if we are looking for a conman last seen in Dublin and then appears in Donegal there is a very very good chance that Liveline has made people aware of him. Thats the positivity from Liveline.

 

Mike

Where do you see RTE in 10/15 years?

Joe

'I probably don't see us in Donnybrook for a start. The radio centre is way way too big and outdated and I don't think anyone knows about the 2 floors of cables and wires under the centre and nobody knows what those wires do and are terrified to cut them! I think what we will have to do is build a smaller centre somewhere near the M50, ideally I would like it in Dublin City and be part of the regeneration of the city. And for the handover we would shut down the old radio centre and do a countdown with Larry Gogan doing the handover! Everything in TV and indeed radio is changing each year, we need new hi tec studios and a new smaller site has to be a logical way to go.  What we have to also keep is the trust from the public too. When something big happens people will turn to RTE. We have to keep that trust and make sure that what we do is truthful and representative. We don't have hidden agendas, for example at the minute the government and water charge protesters think we are biased, we can't win! We have a contract and a vested interest to the the people of Ireland to keep that trust.

 

Mike

Where do you see radio as a medium in 10/15 years?

Joe

'I think what radio has for it is that it is a one on one experience, it's communal, we listen to it on your own, it's interactive especially with social media, twitter etc. We need more really really good content, The current Director General in RTE Dee Forbes is strong on good content, some of the BBC content is stunning. especially on BBC World Service. We have a good relationship with the BBC built up over the years and that stands to us. As regards DAB, it's a dead medium, I don't know anyone with a DAB radio and RTE were forced in to this by the government and it won't last. Internet radio is where it's at, on your phone, tablet etc......

Mike

What is your favourite Dublin landmark?

'I was reared in Ballyfermot, There is no reason to go to Ballyer as a tourist, it's a very self enclosed area. I was thinking to myself where did we as kids go to that was near Ballyfermot. It was The National War Memorial in Islandbridge. People say there is an incredible gardens there and there is only one entrance to the gardens, the main entrance, and that is on a motorway. You cannot stop your car near the entrance, you have to park your car in Ballyer and walk the mile back to it. They were designed by Edwin Lutyens, who designed New Delhi! He had originally envisaged a bridge over the Phoenix Park to the Memorial Gardens over the Liffey, like a vista. Imagine how beautiful that would look now. The Memorial Gardens is my obsession at the moment. A wonderful Dublin Landmark'.

Mike

Your new book 'Children of The Troubles'  tell me about it, as a follow up to 'Children of The Rising'

Joe

'I'm researching it at the moment, it is proving difficult as it is so recent, so raw to all involved, all I'm interested in at the moment is putting the information out there, for instance from 1969 to 1998 148 children were killed. Same criteria, all under 16 years of age in The Troubles in Northern Ireland. What struck me was the closeness of the people who died, you would discover that a child had died, 5 years later a cousin of that child had died etc... I have their names and stories andwill contact families and see how they are about talking about this issue because it is so raw, so recent. It's a big big project but one I'm looking forward to. I'm putting together a story of the worst years and the worst bombings over the course of The Troubles and the mental health of the citizens Northern Ireland is something that shouldn't be forgotten.

 

Mike

Joe Many thanks for your time and I will buy the coffee!!

here is the full interview with Joe Duffy on Soundcloud.

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