Letters: The Silencing of Public Radio

Donal Sarsfield, Co Mayo, writes:In reading ‘The Silencing of Public Radio’ by Michael Cronin (JMI, Nov-Dec ’06) I felt slightly pigeonholed. Mr Cronin makes the point that RTÉ’s target audience ‘is not the citizen or even...

Donal Sarsfield, Co Mayo, writes:
In reading ‘The Silencing of Public Radio’ by Michael Cronin (JMI, Nov-Dec ’06) I felt slightly pigeonholed. Mr Cronin makes the point that RTÉ’s target audience ‘is not the citizen or even the consumer but the commuter. Drivetime is all the time.’ While I agree with this analysis regarding the programmes mentioned, he only picks the shows on RTÉ Radio 1 from 7am until 8pm to support his point of view.

Even though I am not a commuter, I find plently of culturally engaging programmes on the radio, at the weekends or after 8pm, post-drivetime if you like. Documentary on One, Tonight with Vincent Browne, What if?, Nova, Sunday Miscellany, Artszone, An Taobh Tuathail and Ceili House are all strong programmes. If you are going to look at public radio then look at all four stations: Radio 1, 2FM, Raidió na Gaeltachta and Lyric FM.

While the addition of 2FM would only have strengthened his argument (Larry Gogan, Gerry Ryan, and so on) it is a shame that he ignored the good work done at Lyric & RnaG. It is also curious why there was no mention of the JK Ensemble, John Kelly’s daytime show on Lyric at 2.30-4.30pm which provides such an oasis of musical treasures that I am almost grateful RTÉ saved me the predicament of having to choose between Rattlebag and JK Ensemble. Almost…

I agree, however, that shoving The Eleventh Hour to the late hour of 11pm is too small a gesture from RTÉ. The role of the artist in society is further marginalised into late-night discussion for ‘those already interested’. On the one hand this year’s budget will provide the Arts Council with more money than ever to develop and support artists in the country, yet there are few opportunities in the mainstream media for artists to inform the public of their work with any intelligence or depth.

So while RTÉ has turned onto the motorway of desensitising the public with innane chatter in the daytime, I tune in post-drivetime. For those lucky enough to be stuck in traffic in the east of course, those BBC waves are never too far away.

Published on 1 January 2007

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