Saturday, May 27, 2006


Weekend Words...with Rick O'Shea

Rick O'Shea Welcome to a new interview feature on United Irelander called Weekend Words which will be more light-hearted in nature than my Words on Wednesday political interviews and which will see me interview non-political, popular figures from Irish society.

Taking my questions this weekend is RTE 2fm presenter Rick O'Shea.

I'd like to thank Rick for agreeing to take my questions. On another note, since this interview has been conducted, Rick has landed a new 6pm-9pm timeslot on 2fm so congratulations to him on that. With that being said, let's begin:

You have your own blog called The Half-Arsed Blog of RTE 2FM's Rick O'Shea. Why do you blog and do you see blogging growing in popularity here in Ireland?

I suppose I blogged initially because I've always been a frustrated writer. I've never been offered anything like my own column in a newspaper which is where the likes of us media types usually let off steam and I really wasn't tech savvy enough to run my own website but when I saw how simple the whole blogspot deely was I thought it was the perfect time to give it a try.

It also coincided with me starting the breakfast show with Ruth Scott and there wasn't an Irish radio show with a blog of its own at the time. I'm always keen to be in at the start of new technology things that can be incorporated into the show and so here we are!

You were the host for the inaugural Irish Blog Awards earlier this year. What did you make of the event?

Brilliant, just brilliant. It was so well organised and put together and yet so unlike a "real" awards ceremony that it was a joy to be part of. We started an hour late because everyone was just enjoying themselves at the bar so much! To get to meet up with people I'd only read up until then and put faces to names was great too. Can't wait for next year's one - that is if Damien has me back :-)

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I don't get to read them as much as I like so I tend to read in bursts weeks apart but I greatly enjoy (for very different reasons) Disillusioned Lefty, In Fact, Ah, Conforming Monkey (when he actually arses himself to post!), Sinead Gleeson and Twenty Major, of course... Ray Foley is also great when he chooses to be :-)

You present a music show Monday-Thursday from 10 to midnight on 2FM. How did you get involved with 2FM and radio work in the first place?

Wow. Ehm, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... It was in the summer between school and college really ('91 for those who remember the old century). Started on hospital radio, got involved in the UCD station when I started there and weaved and dodged from East Coast (Wicklow) to Atlantic 252 to FM104 before I ended up here in June 2001. It's all very boring really... I suppose I ended up in radio because it was something I could somehow do well and the hours seemed good...

What are the most important things you've learned from your time on the radio?

Don't panic, don't get stressed in the short term, try to connect with people as much as you can both in person and on the show and always play like you're about to be sold...

Tell us a bit about your own taste in music. What do you like and what do you dislike?

I love it all, a cliché but, if you see my music collection, true. Everything from Gnarls Barkley to Noel Coward, Johnny Cash to Arctic Monkeys, Chet Baker, Jack Johnson, Hard-Fi, Dylan, The Who, The Stones, Snow Patrol, Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, The Chili Peppers, Nina Simone, Christy Moore... It might be easier for me to list what I don't have and like at home.

What I don't like? Anyone from a reality TV series, most cheesy cheap dance, almost anything that gets played to death on the radio...

What's the strangest thing that's happened to while you've been presenting your show on the radio?

The night Coolio finished his interview with me, asked me where he could find a wrench and proceeded to try and "borrow" (his words) the TV mounted on the studio wall... Apparently his Playstation wasn't compatible with the one in the hotel...

What are your thoughts on politics? Does it interest you at all?

Intensely. To be fair it's mostly global or US politics that really takes my interest. I've read my own fair share of Chomsky, John Pilger, Greg Palast, Gore Vidal's political stuff, Bob Fisk, Christopher Hitchens through to Al Franken and Michael Moore... The situation in the US has captivated me in recent years as much as anyone else. I get my Irish fix every day from the Indo and my worldview from The Guardian.

I was in the European Parliament in Brussels recently though as part of my work as patron of Brainwave - The Irish Epilepsy Association ( and was suitably awed by what I saw. I'm a true believer that the European project is a genuine force for good in the world most of the time...

At home I've never had a party allegiance, I almost always find someone from a smaller party whose views and mine match somewhere. I do always vote though whether I like the looks of anyone or not. Call me a cynic but I'm always immediately suspicious of anyone who would choose to enter politics for a living!

What do you make of the 98FM fugitive that 98FM have recently revived? Do you think it's a good concept?

I think it worked wonderfully first time around and was a great example of one of those promotions that starts in the station and all of a sudden reaches a critical tipping point and then takes on a life of its own in the real world. I think, like Big Brother, its effectiveness will diminish the more often you do it...

If you had to be stranded on a desert island and were only allowed take three things with you, what would you take and why?

Wow. I've always wanted to be asked this one! My Moleskine notebook would be one. I'm in the initial notetaking stage for a novel I'm writing so I could keep myself endlessly occupied. To read Orwell's 1984, the one I keep coming back to as the world becomes more and more like Airstrip One...

And to finish, a bottomless bottle of Jameson.

I understand you're a Liverpool fan. What did you make of the FA Cup final?

A long suffering one at that! I've been a red since I was too little to know what football really was but it's great to see us finally with a manager and the bones of a squad that can win trophies on a regular basis again.

The cup final itself reaffirmed my view though of the real potential "all-time" greatness of Steven Gerrard. He created one, scored two (one while hobbling at the end of normal time) and his penalty in the shootout. On his day there are few I'd rather have in midfield. It convinced me I was right though to think that Djibril Cissé's one to keep even with his problems this season and that Reina was a brilliant, brilliant buy.

I think Morientes has to be the one to go during the summer [well predicted! - Ed.] and that we need another world class midfielder...

To my eternal shame I didn't see the game live as I was on the train down to work down south but as I said on my own blog, "I wouldn't have missed the experience of having my 8 year old commentate on the penalty shootout down the phone as the train pulled into Cork for anything".

What would you say to anyone reading now who is thinking about a career in radio?

Think hard, I suppose. I know it appeals to a lot of people because it appears to be an easy enough career and sure all you have to do is talk and play a few cds here and there but ponder this - even out of everyone presenting in radio in Ireland maybe only the top 10% are earning "decent" money. Below them are 90% many of whom struggle to pay the bills on a regular basis; we've all been there. There's almost no security in the job - one bad book and you can be out.

But... If it's your passion pursue it to the best of your ability but know when to quit and always have a backup plan. Mine is winning Euromillions. Part of me has always wished I'd done what I wanted to at 16 and become an accountant :-)

Finally I'd like to play a small round of word association. I'm sure you know what it entails. Basically just outline what word comes into your head when you hear the following names:

Ryan Tubridy -
Dave Fanning - Legend
Marty Whelan - Comeback
Roy Keane - Inspiration
Rick O'Shea - Paycheck

Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed, Rick. I appreciate it.

My pleasure :-)

This Wednesday I put my questions to the always entertaining, incomparable Senator David Norris.

Keep clicking in to United Irelander for your up close and personal look at Irish society.


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