As the upcoming second series of You Couldn’t Make It Up, our comedy news panel show for Newstalk, fast approaches, it got me thinking about its long and treacherous journey thus far. Back on Newstalk for a second 10-week run from January 19th, it's been around the houses just to get this far. As we often describe it, it's the show that refuses to die, such has been its regular resurgences just when we think its pulse is no more.
As the Press Council of Ireland nears the end of its tenth year in operation, Press Ombudsman, Peter Feeney is my guest on the ninth media-savvy Off Message podcast. Our chat explored the vagaries of dealing with complaints for both online and print publications, his previous lengthy career in RTE making programmes and overseeing their Freedom of Information activity, his love of local newspapers, his predictions for the future of the press and public service broadcasting, and lots more.
My luckiest career break may well have been a literal one. It happened 40 years ago this month. I could be a very happy headmaster somewhere now if it hadn't happened. Though I suspect my break really was for the best.
Mistakes, I’ve made a few, but then again, too many not to mention… With apologies to Ol’ Blue Eyes and Paul Anka, I was reminded the other week of one the many both major and minor cock-ups that have littered my media career to date.
The seventh media-friendly Off Message podcast - Off Message #50 overall...hurrah! - is with Nadine O'Regan, Books and Arts Editor and current (no relation) Off Message columnist with the Sunday Business Post. During our chat, Nadine discussed how it felt to recently have her long-running Today FM show, Songs In The Key Of Life, rather unceremoniously dropped by the station; her own not insignificant role in the globally successful West Cork podcast; growing up in a household steeped in print journalism; her own very peculiar roundabout route into the business, and much more.
The sixth media circus that is the Off Message podcast is with Michael O'Keeffe, CEO at the regulator of all Irish broadcasting - though thankfully not podcasts...not yet, anyway - the BAI, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. During our chat Michael revealed the BAI's origins in Ireland's murky pirate radio past and its planned next move into regulating parts of the online media wild west; the type of complaints they regularly get about programmes; where they get their funding and how some would rather not pay up; their wooing of London's international broadcasters pre-Brexit; the growing Irish appetite for podcasts - *applauds*; their take on diversity and plurality in Ireland's broadcast media; and more.
The fifth media-curious Off Message podcast is with Deirdre O'Shaughnessy of Cork's 96fm. Editor of and regular fill-in presenter on their morning chat show, The Opinion Line with PJ Coogan, I was particularly interested to explore their different approach dealing with a local rather than a national audience and what kind of items work best for them. During our yabber Deirdre also revealed why she's in no rush to work in Dublin, how when she arrived the station successfully replaced a big name presenter in the same slot and why a morning talk show works so well in an otherwise all-music radio format.
The fourth media-mad Off Message podcast is with the ubiquitous Norah Casey who has worked both here in Ireland and in the UK across all sectors in the media. She's run and owned numerous publishing ventures, she's presented her own radio and television programmes, she's managed a handful of online businesses and written a book of her hectic life to date. In it the podcast Norah reveals the tortuous stories behind her hugely emotional live Late Late Show and Marian Finucane appearances in which she first told the highly charged stories of her second husband's death and the domestic abuse she suffered for nine years at the hands of her first; her recently-discovered insatiable love of podcasts; her real fear that she's now become a news junkie; the trauma of selling most of her cherished magazine titles late last year; her love-hate relationship with social media; and lots more.
Christmas may well be the season for giving but in the particularly unforgiving media business rejection happens all year round; and the festive season is no exception. Dealing with all this negativity successfully is vital if you want to stay the pace.
The debut Off Message podcast, featuring the media-related wit and wisdom of RTÉ 2fm's music-and-movie-mad Dave Fanning. Over the course of our chat Dave reminisces about his almost completely accidental career journey; how his RTÉ career hasn't exactly gone to plan; whether he'd ever ask U2 the hard questions; his unconventional advice for succeeding in the media world, and at a typical Fanning rate of knots, of course much, much more.
Off Message won an Irish Blog Award recently. Get us, huh? I was of course delighted. But now I'm wondering if winning an award like this has any real and measurable impact on one’s career. It's tricky to quantify.
Real honesty in the media is a rare thing. I don’t mean in its coverage and output. No, I’m talking about the honesty of those of us lucky enough to work in the business when we're discussing in public the day-to-day workings of our job. And my blogposts to date prove I'm as guilty as anyone else.
When freelancing work dries up (or at least goes eerily quiet for a while) you’re forced to get your pitching mojo back on. Which is where I’m at right now, partially because of Brexit, surprisingly enough. And whatever the outcomes it’s the waiting that kills you.
In media circles, fake news is the hot topic du jour. It’s not a new phenomenon, of course; fake news has long done the rounds in our newspapers, on radio, on television and online. I’ve been thinking about the perhaps unexpected role footballers’ post-match interviews have played in its current surge.
I spent most of November in Maximum Media helping them produce a series of short videos. I’ve read a lot about ‘new media’ changes and their impact on their ‘old media’ cousins over the past decade but seeing one of these ‘new media’ models up close and personal over the past while was an invaluable personal first.
As I left RTÉ last week at the end of another long run there I was very aware that I hadn’t a gig lined up to go to anywhere else anytime soon. Oddly I wasn't too worried, which as a freelancer is a very weird feeling.
I followed news of the Brussels attacks online on radio and on TV. It was no big deal. I suspect for news providers using all available digital tools it is.
When Radio Eireann had a monopoly on Irish airwaves pirate radio was the only realistic outlet for the majority of folk with any broadcasting ambitions. Including yours truly.
Now the taxman has done damage to bank balances it is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And it's a particularly weird period in TV and radio.
Having to look after all your own tax affairs is just one of the things you have to consider when thinking of becoming a freelancer. Here are the main pros and cons, as far as I can tell.
As a freelancer I’m constantly thinking about what makes a successful idea. And in most cases, especially for long running formats, simplicity is the key. If you can’t explain it in a very short paragraph – think of the sentence or two you’d have in TV listings – then the odds are stacked against you.