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Newstalk’s brand-new drivetime host Kieran Cuddihy attempts too hard at relaxing

Ever since Pat Kenny succeeded Gay Byrne on the Late Late Show and transformed it from societally seismic broadcasting phenomenon into car crash television, one way to make your mark as a presenter has been to differentiate yourself from your predecessor as radically as possible. It’s an approach that Kieran Cuddihy appears to adopt as…

Ever since Pat Kenny prospered Gay Byrne on the Late Show and changed it from societally seismic broadcasting phenomenon into car crash tv, one method to make your mark as a presenter has actually been to distinguish yourself from your predecessor as significantly as possible. It’s a method that Kieran Cuddihy appears to embrace as he takes over from Ivan Yates as host of the Tough Shoulder ( Newstalk, weekdays).

On Monday, as he steps into the early night slot previously occupied by the perennially irritated Yates (and before that by the perma-dyspeptic George Hook), Cuddihy stakes his own claim, by declining to vent. “I’m not going to join the band of the outraged,” Cuddihy proclaims, recommending he hasn’t check out the task description for his new gig.

Overall, it’s a big week at Newstalk, with Yates’s retirement triggering a wider reshuffle.

Regular listeners need not fret. While Cuddihy resists the temptation to fume about the low-hanging fruit of younger misbehaviour, he retains the peeved tone native to inhabitants of Newstalk’s drivetime programs. The twist is that he’s upset at individuals getting annoyed. “I’m not safeguarding their behaviour,” the host states of the Killarney revellers, “but you’re not going to change it by waving the finger.”

Tone deaf

That stated, there’s a distinct wagging of digits on Tuesday, when Cuddihy voices alarm at Government proposals to fine those refusing to use face masks. “I do not wish to reside in a society where the local guard is going to fine me since my left nostril is poking out from my mask,” he says. He wants people to wear masks “due to the fact that it’s the ideal thing to do, not because they’re afraid of the Stasi”. It’s possibly a tad alarmist, however at least he does not compare the Garda to the Gestapo. Additionally, the increased language overshadows his more serious point; that the proposed fines mark a draconian relocation away from the “social uniformity” approach hitherto adopted towards the coronavirus pandemic: “Forget all that carrot rubbish, here’s a stick.”

Cuddihy’s technique to the program’s conventional “my two cents” segment encapsulates his very first week. He’s insightful, with a scything sense of humour, however he tries a bit too hard. Something similar takes place when he interviews Colin Parry, whose 12- year-old kid Tim was killed by an Individual Retirement Account bomb in Warrington in1993 When Colin remembers that his kid was an Everton fan, like himself, Cuddihy interjects, “I won’t hold that versus you”. It’s implied as a joke, obviously, but delighting in football small talk with a male remembering his killed child is tone deaf, to put it mildly.

Overeagerness aside, Cuddihy can make a success of his program.

And for all his vibrant existence, he does not seem set on triggering controversy for its own sake. There’s definitely hope for a beneficial decision on Cuddihy’s program.

Old berth

In General, it’s a huge week at Newstalk, with Yates’s retirement triggering a more comprehensive reshuffle. One more female voice has signed up with the station’s male-dominated weekday line-up. Cuddihy’s old berth on Newstalk Breakfast is filled by Ciara Kelly, who in turn over her seat on Lunchtime Live to stalwart stand-in Andrea Gilligan Kelly slips in to her brand-new function easily, apart from the odd connection fault. In the longer term, much will depend upon how delighted she is with the punchier news format of the breakfast program, and undoubtedly how her dynamic with co-host with Shane Coleman gels.

Gilligan, on the other hand, acquires Kelly’s show, with its caller-driven format of human-interest topics and way of life products. It’s a tricky template which can quickly wind up as soft mush, however Gilligan begins confidently. She strikes up a casual rapport with common medical pundit Sam McConkey when going over the very best material for face masks, to the point that her guest confesses to being, ahem, a cotton underwear man. Too much details, McConkey himself concedes. The host also has a nice method of carefully shunting windy callers towards the exit, as when one woman begins estimating Oprah Winfrey for no evident reason.

But Gilligan puts her stamp on the program in a more personal method.

It’s a hard subject, as Gilligan confesses, but with Individuals Before Earnings TD Gino Kenny looking for to present a right-to-die Costs in the Dáil, she explores it attentively. She goes over both the ethics and the realities with activist Tom Curran, whose late partner Marie Fleming took a case to end her own life, prompting callers to share stories of enjoyed ones weakening in vulnerability. Gilligan has an even starker discussion on Tuesday, when Cervical Check campaigner Vicky Phelan talks frankly about her own circumstance. “The thought of my kids having to enjoy me in pain actually keeps me awake during the night,” Phelan says of her cancer medical diagnosis.

It’s a hard yet remarkable start to the show, resonant and sincere. Gilligan has actually set a high requirement for herself, but has currently made Lunch break Live her own.

Radio Moment of the Week: Liveline scatters seed on stony ground

In April, Liveline( RTÉ Radio 1) included to the gaiety of a locked-down country when it was flooded with disgusted grievances about obscene scenes on TELEVISION drama Normal Individuals. Hopes are high for a reprise when stand-in host Katie Hannon hears about a HSE-supported sexual health brochure that, to the first caller at least, seemingly promotes online pornography and masturbation.

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