James Cridland

Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 for Feb 2

After doing this for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, RN Breakfast from Australia’s ABC, and Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC and Morning Edition from NPR and WBEZ Chicago, it’s the turn of RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.

RTÉ is Ireland’s public service broadcaster, but also carries commercials. This programme is also taken on the RTÉ News Channel, the broadcaster’s news TV service, and I gather (though I can’t see it) that they’re now coming from a brightly-lit made-for-TV radio studio.

The ad breaks are heralded by a quick throw-forward (“news headlines after the break”, though sometimes just “we’ll take a break”). There’s even a sponsored timecheck. Like RN Breakfast and LBC, there are little jingles to break up and position the show, which sound modern and fast-moving.

I ended up with 3,205 lines of text.

Types of output

Lots of coverage of what the newspapers say, with (as RN) a special reporter whos job it is to go through the papers for stories. It’s the first thing in the programme, and the first thing in hour two as well. The station uses journalists from other news organisations heavily - Alex Kane from the Irish News, Danny McElhinney from the Irish Mail on Sunday and Suzanne Lynch from Politico are among the interviewees. I’d see these as competing news organisations, so I’m surprised that they get as much airtime and credibility given to them.

8.9% was adverts, which - with a further 2.1% of trails - totals to six minutes in the hour.

Two ads were for “things going on in the theatre”, co-branded as being “Entertainment updates on RTÉ Radio 1”, which sounded a little like this:

RTÉ Radio 1. Barney, it’s Joe Dolan and he says his car’s broken down! Back by popular demand, the hilarious hit music and comedy show The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down. At 3Olympia Theatre, running from this Tuesday, February 6th, for one week only. The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down, for all theatre and Joe Dolan fans alike. Tickets available now from Ticketmaster IE. Entertainment updates on RTÉ Radio 1.

… not sure that’s an ’entertainment update’, or that this advert is worthy of being given co-branded status.

Interestingly, all the trails promote shows “on RTÉ Radio 1 and the RTÉ Radio app”, as we’re accustomed-to on television. I didn’t notice it at the time, but ABC RN also does similar.

“At three minutes to eight, it’s time to go to Met Éireann and Michelle Downs for the weather forecast” - “Hi, Aine - it’s Michelle Tillin here.” Ouch. That’s going into a three minute weather forecast (it’s a public holiday weekend).

Otherwise, Stormont dominated the programme - possibly unusually so, given the importance of the story. Every effort was made, as you’d expect, to get all sides of the story.

Odd to hear the beginning of hour two start “a very good morning again”. I’d have dropped the “again”, personally.

I’m not sure we learn much about the personalities of the presenters - RN Breakfast and Radio 4’s Today appear to have a few more relaxed moments for us to get a little personality over, and the format here appears to offer little of that.

Morning Ireland also uses the pips, I notice.

This is a fast-moving breakfast sequence, with excepting the Stormont story, a wide range of different stories covered, and a mix of treatments for the stories, including some pre-produced reports and a fair amount of interviews. It was a good listen, and I was struck by how modern it sounded.