I’m old enough to remember when there was just one television and one radio station. Outside Dublin, that is. In those days, Gay Byrne, Mike Murphy and Larry Gogan were near deities: and that rubbed off on anyone who worked for the national broadcaster. RTÉ was full of stories of camera crews rolling into Irish towns and being treated like visiting dignities. They’d be offered tea, sandwiches, pints and eligible daughters.
All changed now, of course. The very idea of what constitutes “media” is mutating and fracturing on an ongoing basis, leaving the traditional rump scrabbling to catch up; to try to figure out how to fit in. I present an old-fashioned radio show and write an old-fashioned newspaper column, and while there is, thankfully, still a market for that kind of thing, I often get the feeling that I’m a dinosaur.
This is reflected in my own family. All the children grew up being occasionally asked: are you anything to your man? Now I get asked: are you anything to your woman?
Recently, I got the chance to see one of her podcast shows in Cork. The event wasn’t advertised and it wasn’t reported on in the local mainstream media
“Your woman” is Daughter Number One, who makes her living as an influencer: a much-maligned term that doesn’t really describe what she does. But she’s stuck with it and doesn’t complain. On various social media channels and in a podcast she does with a friend, she talks about a lot about her own life – stringent honesty seems to be a defining feature of this form – but also about a large range of issues that are important to her demographic: women in their early 20s.
Recently, I got the chance to see one of her podcast shows in Cork. The event wasn’t advertised and it wasn’t reported on in the local mainstream media. There was no mention of it on Twitter. Yet across two nights, hundreds of people turned up: all of them existing in a media world completely separate from the one I inhabit. Before the show, I sat in the Green Room with Daughter Number One and some of her friends. One of them told a story about how their mother was excited because she’d got tickets to be in the audience for the Late Late Show. They had all heard of the Late Late Show. They knew the presenter was Ryan somebody. But they’d never watched it.
I tried my best to look relaxed; or as relaxed as a beardy old geezer surrounded by 400 20-something women can be. But the audience fervour, the emotional investment, caught me completely by surprise. There was a lot of cheering and clapping. There were an awful lot of tears.
For me, it was a two-for-one event, daughter-wise. Daughter Number Three writes and performs music now, and so she was the warm-up act. The reception to her was equally enthusiastic. The woman to my left immediately began screaming “Oh my God, she’s so gorgeous!” and afterwards tried to tearfully explain to me why my daughters were so important to her. It was too noisy for me to catch what she was saying.
I’ve been doing what I do for a few years now. So, you can, at times, get a bit jaded. It was nice to learn something new
The main event was a 90-minute conversation that was hilarious, absolutely filthy and completely unstructured: which was the point of it. This media goes to pains to avoid the artifice of traditional forms. There is no script or running order, it feels home-made. It feels real.
I haven’t taken up your time today just to tell you how brilliant my children are; not entirely anyway. Because they are not the only ones: there’s a vast ecosystem of people doing this kind of thing, largely invisible to the mainstream media and fans of the Late Late Show: a generation who make their own media, where the providers and consumers are on more of a level footing; where the most important attribute is a to have a heart.
I’ve been doing what I do for a few years now. So, you can, at times, get a bit jaded. It was nice to learn something new.