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Radio Days: Memory and Anticipation

November 6, 2014


You know, I’ve just remembered something this very minute: my first recording for radio. Ennis , circa – well, maybe we’ll ignore the date – but it was Ennis, and it was community radio. I sang a song I’d composed myself, which got into the top twenty of a national song contest for teenagers. I’d forgotten about that moment until now… now that I’m back in front of microphones.

My first memory of the radio is the back room in our old house in Limerick. My brother was in the playpen and Mummy was sitting in an armchair peeling oranges. There was a newspaper on her lap. ‘The Kennedys of Castleross’ was on the radio. I didn’t know the name of the programme then, of course. But the theme tune places the memory in that time after lunch; when children have been fed, the baby is down for his nap, and a mother can take the weight off her feet.

As in Woody Allen’s Radio Days (1987), we only had a radio in the house when I was very small.  Radio Days is a beautifully written and acted film. The way stories overlap, the sense of place and family and yes, the sheer nostalgia of it, make it the perfect film for a winter’s evening by the fire. In it, Diane Keaton sings ‘You’d be so nice to come home to’. Apart from making me want to walk into the film and take over in front of the orchestra, the song title describes the film perfectly!

radio recording days

radio recording days

Radio Days highlights so well the craft that went and still goes into making radio programmes. It’s all there: from the recording of dramas and voice over work (Mia Farrow is hilarious in one of her best roles) to the glamour of attending live recordings in Radio City Music Hall in the heart of Manhattan. There’s the gossipy socialites with accents of cut glass. Then there’s the Masked Avenger, whose every adventure is followed by the kids in our young hero’s Rockaway classroom. ‘BEWARE, EVILDOERS – WHEREVER YOU ARE!’, cries the Masked Avenger – who is a short dumpy man on the other side of the mic.


Radio. Radio. Radio.

I confess:  I’ve had my radio moments with Gerry Ryan and others. I got onto a panel to discuss a book, travel, and vampires with Marian Finucane. A few years ago, I won the John Murray Show’s Golden Voice Competition. I like radio. I like what it can still do in this helter-skelter world of in-your-face, up-to the-second reality nonsense. There is no substitute for a change of tone, or a pause where it’s not expected.

This week I started a diploma in Media Production/Radio. Already, we fledglings have put together the bones of a playlist, written intros, and delivered them in studio. Our blushes are spared for a while yet – but we will be broadcasting live on the Net in the New Year. By the time it’s all over, I should be able to podcast my poetry and other work on a website I’ll have designed myself.

Best of all will be developing the radio skills to connect with the great YOU out there.


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