The Musical Hour: Muppet Special

In our house growing up, my folks used to always say that everything I learned in life I learnt from the Muppets. A bit of an over statement perhaps, but certainly true in my education of entertainers. A song might come on the radio and I’d remark, “Oh that’s Rita Coolidge!” or an old clip of a TV cowboy might appear and I’d say “I love Roy Rogers!” How do you know who they are, my parents would cry. The answer always being, “They were on The Muppet Show!”

So, this week on my radio show The Musical Hour (normally one hour of showtunes) I dedicated the entire programme to my first love – The Muppets. It’s mostly music but features two other Muppet fanatics – the first, in a piece produced by myself, is about Bunny – a Dublin drag queen and her love of Kermit and gang and the second is a really lovely and quite moving piece by my friend and fellow broadcaster Regan Hutchins.

I don’t normally podcast The Musical Hour as it’s made up of 90% music but I’m making an exception in the case of The Muppet special. You can listen to the full show below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Musical Hour broadcasts every Wednesday 2-3pm on 103.2 Dublin City FM and can streamed here.

A tipsy rant

The perils of being friends with other radio folk is that there’s always a recorder to hand and a pal willing to use it. So over a couple of glasses of wine last night Regan Hutchins, who creates wonderful radio pieces for Culture File, held up a mic to my mouth ever so slowly so as not to frighten me off like a farmer after a stray sheep. He caught me just as I began a tipsy rant about visiting Avoca for the first time. Enjoy.

Enda Visits Liam

Last December Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave an address to the nation just before Love/Hate aired on TV. Later that night the audio of his address was released online. The idea to edit a piece using Enda came to me quite late that night, so in an effort to be timely, I recorded this whole piece in the middle of the night trying not to wake up the rest of the family.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Tuning In

Falling into things isn’t always a pleasant experience. One might fall into an abyss and never be heard of again. One could fall into a vat of jam and be sticky and attract bees. Yet, the day I fell into radio was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me. I was never a keen radio listener. Occasionally, yes. Often, no. For the most part I thought radio was the home of DJs playing music bookended with wacky stings, late night phone-in shows and newsreaders.

I hadn’t realised the potential of radio in a capacity to tell a story, to rivet and to move. Radio, to me, was largely mute. That is until a few years ago, my sister suggested I try out as a newsreader on 103.2 Dublin City fm. They were in the process of introducing news reports to their station. Up until this point I had spent most of my time in print journalism, writing features and columns for the local newspaper in Kildare. Still, with the recession providing me with more free time than I’d like I thought I’d give it a go.

It was around this time I began listening to This American Life – a weekly hour long programme that told stories. I’d never heard anything like it. The notion that I, as a listener, could be so invested in hearing a radio programme was alien to me. I was hooked. The show told stories in ways I hadn’t imagined possible on radio. People from every possible walk of life spoke as the shows host Ira Glass threaded everything together. Recordings of ambience, perfectly chosen music and deft editing combined to craft a show that I wouldn’t miss for the world.

So for the past few years I read the news (and still do) on Dublin City fm. I began producing and hosting a music programme on the station – The Musical Hour. If I was nervous going live with a 2 minute news bulletin you can imagine the feeling when I began a one hour live show. That said, there is simply no better buzz than doing a show live. There’s a certain danger about that I enjoy. Also during this time I was, and still am, producing and co-hosting (with Craig O’Connor) a podcast about comic books – The Comic Cast, which won Best Independent Podcaster at the 2011 Irish Web Awards. It was like someone turning up the volume in my life.

Over this time I became obssessed with radio. There was so much to catch up on, so much to listen to. Shows and podcasts like This American Life, RadioLab, 99% Invisible, RTÉ’s Documentary on One, the list goes on. Eventually I decided I wanted to have a go at making this kind of radio. Telling stories. Like a child intent on getting that shiny new BMX, I saved and saved bought a digital recorder and a shotgun microphone. I watched every YouTube video of Ira Glass giving advice, I read articles and essays on resource sites but most of all I listened. I’d remembered hearing a writer once say that the best way to become a writer was to read and this, I took to heart.

So this brings us to now. The present. I’ve begun this blog to record what happens from now. I’ll be posting audio pieces and news of what I’m getting up to in radioland from here on in. I’m falling and it’s wonderful.

Stay tuned.