TV & Radio

No women in Newstalk’s prime time slots

Newstalk presenters Ivan Yates and Bobby Kerr.

So, Newstalk has shuffled around some of its presenters, though to what effect or purpose I’m not really sure.

Drive has been replaced by The Hard Shoulder, and while I’ll miss Sarah McInerney from the evening show I’m not too enamoured of Ivan Yates taking over the slot. He is too laddish for my liking and is lowering the tone of the programme. 

Even on his first show he was dwelling too much on the immodest attire found in the aftermath of Electric Picnic, though it was guest George Hook that raised it, critically, in the first instance. The ‘grumpy old men’ slot was as tired and cringe inducing as Hook’s own slot ‘Here Come the Girls’ on his High Noon show. I did however like Yates’ interview with Brendan Courtney who spoke movingly about the death of his father and the value of hospice care.

Critics were of the opinion that it was more a case of ‘there go the girls’ as there are now no female presenters on prime weekday slots at all. Laddish indeed. Well, they weren’t committed to gender balance in marriage either, so I suppose it’s a pattern. 

That latter observation was confirmed by Yates’ interview with gay rights campaigner Rory O’Neill (aka Panti Bliss) on the Wednesday. O’Neill presented a lopsided view of the same sex marriage debate in Australia, calling the current postal plebiscite a waste of time and money, and “a stupid idea”. It was a bit of a love-in as Yates didn’t ask any challenging questions and in regards to O’Neill’s hopes for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, finished with “and so say all of us”. Who was he presuming to speak for?

He followed this with an item on gender neutral clothing for children (diversity through sameness?), but this time he seemed very doubtful about where all this is heading, though in a way he was feeding the fad. Often it seems more like a lifestyle 

show than news and current affairs, with items on the content of lunchboxes, veganism and coffee shops in Dublin. And again there was more crude innuendo when he was discussing tech issues with Jessica Kelly.

Yates does best when 

dealing with hard political issues – having been an insider he knows his stuff. This was evident as he dealt during week with the latest manifestation of the Garda crisis, mostly the issue of the hugely exaggerated number of breathalyser tests. His disbelief was expressed in a particularly apt phrase – “You couldn’t make it up”. But of course the problem was that they did! 


On Thursday there was a welcome forum on homelessness, with representatives of the Peter McVerry Trust and Barnardos among others, and on Friday Yates was particularly scathing about the Government’s latest initiative on the housing crisis. If only he would stick to serious matters like this. 

In the promo material for his shows he stressed that his opinions would be a crucial part of the show, which worries me. I’d prefer broadcasters in news and current affairs to be impartial rather than opinionated – let them be even-handed to all sides.

Sarah Mc- Inerney now has her own 

Newstalk show, Between the Lines, early on Saturdays but that has displaced Sarah Carey, which is a pity, as hers was one of the few shows where you might get a perspective different to the liberal consensus. 

On last weekend’s edition McInerney had an interesting discussion on transport infrastructure, with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, a chat with Jim O’Callaghan TD of Fianna Fáil about the Garda crises, and finally in her media and culture slot played a bizarre bust up between Piers Morgan and transgender model Munroe Bergdorf after the latter had lambasted white people as being racist and violent. Inevitably you can find the exchange on YouTube.

Meanwhile Chris Donoghue, former programme partner of both McInerney and Yates, now has his own show, On the Record, on Sunday mornings. It’s a tough gig being in direct competition with the far more relaxed Marian Finucane. 

This new show just follows the familiar model – review of the newspapers, current events (the Florida hurricane was prominent last weekend) and various topical issues discussed by a panel, with a big helping of sport in the second hour. It could surely be more imaginative.


Pick of the week

Late Late Movie: Lincoln

RTÉ One, Saturday, September 16, 11.25pm
(2012) Daniel Day-Lewis [pictured]. America’s president struggles with his cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

RTÉ One, Sunday, September 17, 11am
Mass for Sunday for the Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving during the National Ploughing Championships.

EWTN, Tuesday, September 19, 9pm, also Wednesday, 8am
Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent show how Catholic teachings fostered creativity in the arts, architecture, foundation of hospitals and turned marriage from a contract to a sacrament.