Monday, January 05, 2009

Of all the surprisingly stupid management decisions...

The end of Rick O' Shea's radio show? At least in its current format anyway. I read this, via @damienmulley over on On The Record

Per yesterday’s Sunday Tribune, management have decided that the station’s afternoon shows - ie Nikki Hayes and Rick O’Shea - are to be talk-free zones. Instead of the usual features and banter between the tunes, the DJs will now simply say “that was that” and “this is this”. Having spent a couple of years actually building, developing and maintaining audiences for these shows through listener interaction (something every single show on every single radio station tries to do), the 2FM grand poobahs (Michael Cahill is the lad credited in the piece as delivering this dastardly plan) have decided that the future will be a chit-chat-free one. Sure, we thought that was what digital radio was all about?
It's bizarre. In a society reliant on MP3 players, web players like and, iPods, iTunes, CDs, downloads and so on, do people really listen to afternoon radio for the music?

Fine, I kind of know Rick off air as well, but I listened to his show before I'd met him. It's the crossover between the show and his blog, the show and his twitter and the rapport he has with his listeners that make it interesting. This is the show that got random people to wink at each other. It brought us the story of that lady who travelled from America to find her "one-night stand" guy. It brings single people together for cinema nights out and was very on the ball with movie reviews and interviews. It was a pop culture show and, in truth, one of my only links to what was happening in that world.

Even more he was one of the only "mainstream media" DJ's who took "advantage" of the followers he had who are bloggers and twitterers and fellow geeks. He catered towards us, mentioned our blogs, invited some on to talk about their projects and gave us a boost. It's quite sad he won't get the same opportunity to do that now.

We have a surfeit of radio stations for such a small country. 98FM and FM104 are just that bit too tabloid for me, Radio 1 that bit too staid, Newstalk is good but a bit too serious. Today FM is what I'd listen to for the morning presenters which made Rick's show such a pleasure to tune into, a break away from dull and dreary afternoons. To my mind, the songs were mostly requests, old familiars with the odd new number and with that element of comfortable listening that required no major involvement. Bubblegum for the ears almost.

It's bewildering that the decision was made by a former DJ, no matter what his reasons were. This seems a complete lack of regard for the audience - an audience, which as Jim pointed out, is built and maintained - and remarkably short sighted. Will I be tuning in to hear Rick play music? Possibly. Not probably but possibly.

Jim makes a great suggestion about Mark McCabe being in a far better position to direct 2FM:
... a confident pair of hands who would be quite happy and determined to make the changes necessary for the station to survive. That's what the station needs if it stands any chance of still maintaining any kind of relevance in the next 10 years. It can’t be just more continuation of the old order on the grounds that G Ryan is such a great advertising magnet.
Why is it that 2FM management can't seem to cop on to the needs of their audience. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm too online. Maybe people do listen to afternoon shows for the music. Do you?


  1. this is a mental idea..

    Ok, im not particularly a big fan of radio...but that's because I personally mainly like to just listen to the music i like (not all the time though), but the only reason i would actively tune in (and the only reason i do on the occasions that i do) is to hear the DJ...

    If its just music...well, why would I subject myself to the whims of the 2fm music police when I can just line up my favourite stuff?

  2. offthemeatrack Completely agreed. I know the music I like and don't expect to hear that on the radio, so it's a bewildering decision.

  3. Can't understand the decision to be honest. If it's an effort to cut costs then it's extremely short sighted. By changing the format they're guaranteed to lose a certain section of the audience. Do they really think that playing music non-stop is going to attract people?

  4. dumb call. I only really listened to him for the talky bits as I'm not a big fan of the 2fm playlist, and I only knew a good talky bit was coming up from his tweets.

  5. Aw nooooo! I love listening to Rick. Love his voice and I love the random things he does with the listeners as you mentioned Darragh getting people to wink at each other and do random nice things etc., sorting out their peoblems if he can or getting other listenners to help them out.

    Great point offthemeatrack, if it's only music I'm after sure I'll stick on my own music. Duh!
    Bad move 2fm, bad move...

  6. I barely listen to the radio at all (maybe 45 mins/month) and I'm not much into music. (One of the main reasons is living in the city I don't have a car.) If I listen to the radio it's usually for a specific feature (interview/news/sports item etc), not for the music.

    Actually one of the few times I listened to the radio in December was for Rick's show to see what it was like as I'd briefly met him at a blogger/tweet-up (before I ever listened to him).

    I'm completely with the folks who think this is crazy. Listening to the advertisers, not the audience, sounds like quite a short-term strategy.

  7. Michael Cahill is evidently trying to do an 'Ana Leddy'. The same brainiacs that shelved Rattlebag and the Mystery Train are at work again here it seems.

    Mr. Cahill, shouldn't you be spinning and knob twiddling at a wedding in Castlebar... ?

  8. Saw the snippet in my feeder, thought it had to be a joke. You have to be kidding. This is one of the worst moves recently made by the tools who sit atop the big mast in Dublin 4. They canNOT take Rick of the airwaves; he keeps us all sane. What in God's name are they THINKING! I'm shocked, disappointed, and getting quite angry now... Look at all the support Rick got when he filled in for GRyan. It is not just his music tastes (fantabulous as they usually are) that people need to hear, it's the banter, the crazy stories... Nobody else makes me hoot with laughter during dreary afternoons at work. Please let the Gods of Radio hear about this and shun the tools in Radio Centre who have had this moment of madness. Then shove them atop that mast good 'n' proper like.

  9. If my memory serves me right, it's not the first time 2FM have made this kind of move.

    It's a while back now but I seem to remember they ruined my afternoons years ago pulling Gareth O'Callaghan off the afternoon slot, and I don't get to hear Rick's show at all over here but from what I gather it was a similar vein.

    They've done it a few times with the afternoon and breakfast shows, pulling good entertaining presenters at their height.

    Odd move indeed.

  10. i live in america. canada actually. and the only reason, the ONLY reason i get up early (6am some mornings) is to listen to Rick and most certainly not the music.

    is there any way for us to send the radio station bosses a letter each? email and snail mail. tell them that they're losing their listening audience (some from as far away as Canada), and give them something to consider?

    this just sucks.

  11. The 2FM decision sounds like a play for homogenous programming. And if you cut the DJ banter, you can squeeze in extra advertising minutes.

  12. There are many other comments over on Unarock's blog and on Jim Carroll's blog too.

    Anthony: Agreed. I realise I haven't worked in radio for years and never on that side, but still, seems very odd.

    Irishstu: Same here

    Whoopsadaisy: Yep. Afternoons in my kitchen just won't be the same.

    Alastair: Hi there and welcome. I wonder if it's because we're all "online" people that we don't get this?

    Ciara: Heya Ciara, welcome back! I have no clue what they're at at all. I wonder if they do.

    MJ: Rick isn't going off the airwaves, they're just cutting the talky bits out of his show. I'm sure he'll be able to inject that inimitable Rick style into it!

    Xbox: Jim Carroll was reminded of XFM in the Uk trying something similar which seems to have failed miserably.

    Donna: You're not American? *L* I'm not sure what we can do. I'll wait until Rick comes back from the States to ask. I don't know if there's anything we CAN do! The last thing we want to do is make any trouble for him!

    Bernie: Irish radio tends to be bad enough without more of the dreadful radio ads we have too... God help us all.

  13. I know I know, but I can't help wondering what they're really up to. They've made a lot of silly moves in recent years and as many commenters have already mentioned, there isn't an overload of decent listening out there...

  14. 2fm are being nobs! What the hell!
    Ricks show is always entertaining and keeps me sane at work. His interaction with his audience and the banter is what make him unique and he honestly seems to love his job. The 2fm playlist is crap and nearly every other presenter plays the same predictible stuff every day, and seem to think that u2 and westlife are the only Irish bands in the world worth listening to.
    Rick's blog is what got me interested in blogging in the first place. I enjoy it and I've a lot to thank him for.
    Will rte ever learn?

  15. Let's be clear: it's not a decision made by a former DJ, it's a decision made by someone who wasn't good enough to keep his job as a DJ and ended up doing something else instead.

    Obviously he doesn't have any understanding of the notion that people might like listening to the bits between the records, because when he did it, everybody wanted him to shut the hell up.

    So Rick, I suppose, will either return to the evenings or say 'yes' to Phantom when they ask him to take over a show there. He'd certainly be happier in either place than gagged where he is, I imagine, though doling out ratings punishment for this RTE fuckwit would be nice poetic justice.

    And Bernie -- that was a rather USian
    bit of logic, if you don't mind my mentioning it :) It's rather gone out of fashion now though, 'cos personality-free radio has more to worry about than people changing channels.

    People like Rick, and the fact that he knows more about new music than most of us, are the only thing radio has left between itself and oblivion. I mean -- how scuffed do your knuckles have to be, how prominent your cranial ridge, how minuscule your IQ, for you to believe that you can compete with an iPod by changing your radio station into a less personalised, lower-quality version of that iPod but with adverts added?

    Kill Them All With Fire.

    The likes of BHG and I, at this point, start with the call to arms about how you should all resist DAB digital radio, promote the idea of pervasive and portable internet radio service, and cheer on the coming day when all broadcast radio is taken out back and killed with a spade to the back of the head.

    Let's see how quickly these morons get killed when some real competition shows up.

  16. Damnit. I wrote that, and Blogger sucks arse.

  17. I would rarely, if ever, listen to 2FM but when I do it is Rick's show.

    Here's the rub as I see it - Nikki Hayes needs to shut up. All she can talk about is herself, her darling dog, her gigs, her spots, her deceased father etc etc etc. If ever there was someone who really needs to shut their cakehole it's Nikki Hayes. I would rather have my eyes spooned out with a rusty spoon than listen to her.

    Rick O'Shea on the other hand is 2FM's strongest daytime presenter and needs to be given freer rein, not less.

    Too many radio stations in this country are run by poor DJ's. It's the same as the old maxim - those that do - do those that can't teach and with Michael Cahill it is no different. He was dire in the afternoon slot, the early breakfast slot and on his current weekend slot.

    Having worked in radio on legal stations for over 15 years I can tell you that what is happening at 2FM has happened everywhere in this country already.

    This is clearly a sign of panic at 2FM. The station has failed to gain a stronghold in Dublin. Over the thirty years since the launch they have been beaten by the pirates, then the FM104's and 98FM's and now Spin and others also. The reason why is simple - they have always had bad management and great broadcasters. 2FM sounds like a school disco organised by a geography teacher - it's run by the radio version of civil servants.

    With the appointment of a new Head of radio at Montrose you can guarantee that there are a few heads in 2FM desperately trying to impress Claire Duignan and this action by Michael Cahill or whoever may be the complete opposite of what is needed.