In these Radiowaves-exclusive articles, legendary presenter Pat Courtenay shares his views, ideas, experience, and tips with our visitors…

In this week’s column he talks about radio’s roots…


Re. last week’s non-appearance: I moved house on New Year’s Eve/Day. I wanted a week off to get pissed. Cool? Cool.

I read an “invited comments” thing on a website; its thrust was, “You’re an ageing jock if…” and I felt that thoughts like that would fit really well with the vibrant and vigourous nature of Irish Radio History, which daily makes its own history last longer.

In this list of observations there were references to knowing cheap tape from good stuff, owning your own splicing-block, actually having met the owner and so on.

Here are some less obvious ones I selected. I’ve added my own comments.

· When all of every news bulletin was generated on station. (With pride and education of future talent.)

· Running a 24-hour operation required real people on deck at all times. (They were friends.)

· Sticking to the format was simply the professional thing to do. (Isn’t it still?)

· Doing your own production! (Automation makes this a necessity and teaches skills.)

· No copy-writer and the jocks wrote the ads. (See Automation comment above.)

· Living to hear American airchecks. Any American airchecks…and this is where I really get into it! Read on.

I followed the thread about Irish Radio stations sounding like “Middle America.” 1. “Middle America” refers to a demographic/psychographic, not a geographic location.

  1. America invented Commercial Radio.
  2. American jocks were/are good, innovative and gave us ideas. They invented it, after all and they’re better than the Brits who slavishly and embarrassingly aped them! The Brits copied the ideas; the rest of us adapted them. If it hadn’t been for U.S. Radio methods, we’d still have nothing but Radio Telefis Eireann…and half of them wouldn’t have a gig!
  3. I’ve listened to Irish air-checks and others listened to mine.
  4. Irish Radio is un-regulated, gigglingly-illegal, in-yer-face, polite without being boring (thanks, Ma!), personable and human with a constant desire to do better. When I do well in other countries, it’s because Irish Radio has shown me how cool it is to know that your audience knows you…whether you like it or not.
  5. American broadcasters have said to me many times, that “our” style of Radio is what America needs!

But the comment that I found really sad in that “You Know You’re an Ageing Jock,” column was the one that said, “You remember when Radio was important.”

Does that make you feel as smug as it made me? I was like, “Ya wha’, Gay???” Which sad loser who has allowed himself to stop having fun, wrote that crap? He was never going to be any good anyway!

So long as we all keep having fun, our craft will always be important.

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