Darragh McManus: It's 2 hard 2 tell if new 2fm schedule is an improvement

Darragh McManus: It's 2 hard 2 tell if new 2fm schedule is an improvement


Much like in television, radio programmers often shake things up over the summer. Big-name presenters are sometimes absent for extended periods: at the moment on Marian Finucane (Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am), for instance, Brendan O’Connor is doing his usual bang-up job as substitute. (So good is the Corkman, indeed, you’d be minded to ask: should he get the job on a permanent basis?”)

Meanwhile, 2FM marked the sunny season a few weeks ago by rejigging their entire weekday schedule – the biggest shake-up in a few years. The main things of note are: Breakfast Republic has been replaced by Doireann Garrihy and Eoghan McDermott (Mon-Fri 6am); the former’s co-host, Jennifer Zamparelli, has begun her own mid-morning show (Mon-Fri 9am); and Jenny Greene returns (Mon-Fri 3pm) after 2FM unwisely let her go last year.

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So what’s the verdict? To be honest, it’s hard to say, for two main reasons: first, 2FM is not at all aimed at me, or even someone approximating me, so I’m not sure I can tell one way or the other; and second, it’s difficult to review shows of this nature anyway.

This kind of radio generally comprises music, chat and nonsense. The music, to my ears, sounds awful; but again, not aimed at me. That autotuned sex-bot caterwauling over sampled beats may be an amazing example of the genre – I can’t tell.

The chat is fluffy, silly and mostly meaningless: none of those are necessarily bad things, by the way. But is one presenter’s wacky shtick better or worse than another’s?

For someone of my generation, it’s kind of like comparing different cartoons on Cúla4. How can you tell?

Ultimately, I think it comes down to something as simple, and unscientific, as likeability. Garrihy, McDermott, Zamparelli and Greene are all likeable enough, to varying degrees; or at least, none is so dislikeable they make you switch off.

Whether you’ll be switched on in the first place depends, I suppose, on your age.

More to my liking, as a mature man of impeccable tastes – and levels of pretentiousness that are high even for a journalist – was Drama On One: a Bloomsday Cornucopia (Radio 1 Sun 7pm). Marking the annual celebration of James Joyce, and particularly Ulysses, this featured excerpts from a 1982 RTÉ production of that novel, and expert insights from Edna O’Brien and Joseph O’Connor, among others.

As one of the few people who’ve actually finished Ulysses – it almost killed me, but I got there eventually – I enjoyed this, especially the performance of Joyce’s text. Someone once said that the novel is best read, and appreciated, aloud, and that was proved true here: the musicality of Joyce’s language singing, from page to airwaves.

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