It sounds unlikely, but as the cost-of-living crisis rages on, the best guides to navigating the inflation crunch may well be Dermot and Dave (Today FM, weekdays). The notion of Dermot Whelan and Dave Moore as shrewd consumer experts might come as a surprise to listeners who know them as those middle-aged presenters with the juvenile sense of humour, but the duo also display an exemplary frugality when it comes to big-ticket items. As their brief encounters with Hollywood stars underline, they’re masters at making a little go a long way.
Credit where it’s due: Whelan and Moore score a coup on Tuesday by landing an interview with Brad Pitt, as A-list a celebrity as they come. The presenters are understandably excited in advance of talking to Pitt, who’s promoting his new movie, Babylon, along with his costar Margot Robbie, a pretty stellar presence herself. Alas, to describe the fleeting chats that follow as interviews would be a misnomer.
Afforded five-minute windows with their guests, Whelan and Moore spend valuable time lavishly praising the film before inviting the actors to share on-set experiences. The results are as profoundly candid as one would expect. Pitt reveals that Ireland is beautiful and Bono is extraordinary, while Robbie intimates that people will love her upcoming Barbie movie. More in-depth conversations can be heard at rush-hour tollbooth transactions.
Dermot and Dave’s endless slagging and corny wisecracking are straight out of the zoo-radio cookie cutter, but it’s an effective formula
Far from being dispirited, however, Whelan and Moore approach their task with characteristically irrepressible gusto. (Pitt’s chipper demeanour adds to the jollity.) And the pair somehow build a three-hour show around their minimal content, whether by constantly hyping the interview or by replaying it afterwards. At a time when scarce resources need to be stretched ever further, we could all learn from Dermot and Dave’s upcycling abilities.
There’s practical advice for hard-pressed listeners, too. The pair dispense tips on getting better value while shopping, albeit in their defiantly daft way, when they ponder the practicalities of supermarket reward apps on Wednesday’s show. Unlike their short Pitt stop, this conversation runs long, but it again underlines the pair’s skill at getting the most out of limited material, with Whelan playing the baffled Luddite to Moore’s taunting techie. “I like vinyl, I like receipts you can hold, and I like tags on my keyring,” Whelan says of his resistance to apps. “He also likes those little tartan shopping trolleys you drag behind you,” Moore chuckles.
But while the duo’s endless slagging and corny wisecracking are straight out of the zoo-radio cookie cutter, it’s an effective formula. Amid the banter, a benignly welcoming atmosphere prevails, for guests and listeners alike. Given they’re both straight males, the on-air dynamic undeniably skews in a certain direction, but it’s one of chirpily knowing dad humour rather than laddish bravado. Even when Whelan slightly bares his teeth, gently mocking “disdain for the patriarchy” in an improvised comic riff, he quickly follows up by skewering the foibles of Irish men. As always with Dermot and Dave, the material matters less than the mood they create: zingily engaging, and oddly endearing.
There’s a more doleful air on The Ryan Tubridy Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays), as the host glumly dissects the social mores of the digital age. On Monday he speaks to a teacher, Eoghan Cleary, about the alarming prevalence of online pornography in the classroom, to the point that it has become the main source of sex education for teens, and indeed younger pupils. “Smartphones have made porn a primary-school problem,” Cleary says. As a result, he continues, young people’s expectations of sex aren’t just unrealistic but damaging, whether by normalising “degrading” acts or the toxic masculinity of misogynistic influencers such as Andrew Tate. Unsurprisingly, Tubridy sounds pessimistic: “It’s a wicked web and a vicious circle.”
His mood isn’t improved by Tuesday’s conversation with the Irish Times political correspondent Jennifer Bray about the harassment of women politicians. Following her compelling feature in last Saturday’s paper, Bray recounts how women in politics face a barrage of vile abuse and physical threats yet are wary of raising the matter for fear of emboldening others. Inevitably, the advent of social media has made things worse by further enabling perpetrators.
Two weeks since taking over Irish radio’s most popular music show from Ronan Collins, Louise Duffy is settling in nicely
Again, Tubridy is downcast as he surveys the “wild west” of the online sphere. Ever the advocate of old-fashioned decency, he despairs that “there’s no sheriff” to police social media, while mourning the postpandemic descent of public discourse into “angry monologues rather than civilised dialogue”. With neither host nor guest seeing any fixes on the horizon, it’s a bleak vista.
Even so, Tubridy deserves kudos for covering such matters. With his sensible wardrobe, upbeat persona and vocal belief in propriety, the presenter can sometimes resemble an eager civics teacher, but there are pressing lessons to be learned from the issues he so urgently raises.
After all that, a much-needed lift comes courtesy of The Louise Duffy Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays). Two weeks since taking over Irish radio’s most popular music show from Ronan Collins, Duffy is settling in nicely. Given her predecessor’s long tenure, she inherits an audience with potentially entrenched tastes, but already Duffy is putting her stamp on proceedings.
Her cheerful manner is accompanied by an easily worn knowledge of music from soul and country to indie, with an appealingly broad soundtrack to match: anyone who unironically confides to having a “cowbell playlist” is to be applauded, even if her selection misses out the timeless Soul Limbo by Booker T and the MGs. It all speaks of a presenter respectful of Collins’s loyal listeners but not beholden to them: a more contemporary flavour is already discernible in the music choices. It’s early days, but on this evidence Duffy’s show should go a long way.