The lovely Karen interviewed me for this week’s Echo newspaper…
Read on if you like that kind of nonsense 🙂
RICK O’Shea is a bit of a nomad in the radio world having DJ’d on hospital radio, the now defunct Atlantic 252, East Coast Radio, FM 104 and now 2FM – and it’s looking like his wandering days are far from over as he’s set to take over the Gerry Ryan slot during the summer, moving his show lock, stock and barrel to the morning.
The popular radio host, who regularly pulls in close to 200,000 listeners for his 2-5pm daily show, originally inherited Dave Fanning’s evening time slot, and most of his production team, but last year was reshuffled to the afternoon with an entertaining blend of music, chat and quite frankly, the bizarre.
Anything goes on Rick’s show, with content featuring everything from what’s on the front page of the newspaper, to odd videos found on You Tube to “items people come up to me on the street and go ‘d’ya know what would be good to do now'”.
And there’s the odd bit of music and an oul interview thrown in as well, just in case you’re into that sort of thing.
Over the past 12 months though O’Shea’s star has risen meteorically with the move to the afternoon, being nominated for a Meteor Award, winning an Irish Blog Award and now taking over the Ryan Line, the third most listened to programme in the country.
Heady times indeed and not bad for a boy from Drimnagh who claims when he started out he wasn’t good enough to work on pirate radio – welcome to Rick’s world.
So Rick, to the uninitiated, tell us a wee bit about your show?
Well it’s not really my show, it belongs to the 200,000 listeners who tune in every day and also the rest of the team here. We knew though that in this day and age it was going to have to become interactive, it’s not just me saying in a Big Voice ‘Here’s what we’re going to do todayyyyy’. It might start off with just a text and then people text in something else, and then something else and it goes from there. Like for example recently we had a girl texting us in saying she’d been receiving automated phone calls from Brian Cowen before the Lisbon Treaty and we did a piece on that and then the papers picked it up and this small thing turned into something big. It’s a mish-mash of all sorts of things, texts, emails, the Internet, phonecalls, music, interviews with bands and we crunch it all up and throw it out there for three hours a day.
Now that everybody has an iPod now and can create their own playlists, how relevant is radio?
This is the big discussion that’s going on in radio at the moment. You absolutely cannot just sit there and play 15 songs in an hour, people have their own iPod’s and they’re not interrupted by the news or by people like me going ‘heyyyyy it’s 12 minutes past the hour’. You have to give them something they can’t get elsewhere, something that makes them laugh, something new. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still play about 12 songs an hour, but you also have to give the listener something to return to. They have to think ‘If I don’t tune in, I’m going to miss something’.
Your show and blog [www.rickoshea.wordpress.com] feed off each other and your site recently won an Irish Blog Award – what was that like?
It totally threw me. I’ve been hosting the Blog Awards for three years and was actually a judge for other categories this year too. I read a lot of blogs and enjoy them everyday and then all of a sudden my name is up there in the same category as Graham Linehan [Father Ted creator]. When I won, my picture was on his blog for God’s sake! It was really humbling and lovely to know that the judges, who are all bloggers themselves, thought mine was the best blog. It was also a real shock to pull out my own name out of the envelope!
How did you get started in broadcasting, was it through pirate radio?
No not at all, I never actually did pirate radio, I wasn’t good enough! I started off in St James’s Hospital radio, probably the world’s worst radio station. You could only get it if you turned on the speakers beside the beds and most of the time they were switched off! There were about six listeners. That was about 17 years ago, a long time ago. I got involved in student radio in UCD and then I did Broadcasting and Journalism studies at Ballyfermot College and had a weekend gig with East Coast radio. In 93 then I was offered a job in radio and jumped in at the deep end working for Atlantic 252, then moved to FM 104 where I was for five years and now I’ve been at RTE for seven years this month.
What’s next for Rick O’Shea and his show?
Well for the last two weeks of July and first two weeks of August we’ll be moving to Gerry Ryan’s slot in the morning while he’s on holidays. It’s not going to be his show of course, it’ll be just the same as we’re doing now and we’ll see what his audience makes of it. I’ve been in RTE for seven years and this is the first time I’ve been asked to do this. It’s absolutely a huge thing in RTE to be asked to cover like this, it’s a privilege.
So is Gerry’s job safe then or would you like to turn your hand to a talk-show format?
To be honest I think we’re all different variations of the same colour. I love what I’m doing right now. And the priority is the show in the afternoon, to build up the audience. It takes people a while to get used to a new show or to even find us in the line up. Nobody does Gerry’s job as well as Gerry!
You’re a bit of a music junkie, what kind do you prefer the most?
Really, I like a bit of everything. I do tend to like music that has a lot of guitar in it, but I’d like elements of all music, dance, country, jazz. I do like bands like Radiohead though.
What do you think of shows like X-factor which try to create musicians?
No, they’re not the way to go at all, they’re the Great Satan to be honest. You can’t take some young kid, stick them on television and then, boom, ten weeks later turn out a perfectly formed pop star. The only way to do it is like U2 in some garage somewhere messing about, working hard. I don’t think ‘stars’ who come from these reality shows are sustainable. There have been enough casualties from X-factor or Pop Idol and only a few who have come out the other side alive, like Girls Aloud or Leona.
Who’s been the best guest you’ve ever interviewed on your show?
It’s hard to pick a best guest because you have some people who come in to perform and some who come in to talk. In terms of performance, we’ve had the Republic of Loose in twice and they’re incredible live. They’re a cast of millions but they’re so talented and so fantastic. In terms of interviews – I really like talking to the Manic Street Preachers. Before they came in I was very intimidated by them because they’re a very serious band and I was like ‘dear Jesus what am I going to ask them’ but they turned out to be the loveliest people. We ended up talking about the smoking ban in Wales and how they can’t have a cigarette in the studio when they’re recording.
And what about the worst guest, any pains in the bum?
To be honest most people really aren’t a pain in the bum, they know they have to be forthcoming if they want the publicity. And I try to ask different questions. I enjoy being the interviewer and trying to get the best out of people. Sometimes of course, someone is having a truly awful day but in general the record people won’t put someone on the radio who isn’t going to talk.
You’re the patron of Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association, tell us about that.
Well I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 16 and my parents didn’t know much about it so they went looking for information and found Brainwave. Then about two years ago, I saw and article in the paper that they were looking for a ‘celebrity’ to be a patron and raise awareness and I thought ‘I want that job’. As it turns out I was the only person who applied for it, so I kinda got it by default! Raising awareness is a continuous process, I went on the Ryan Tubridy Show, he very kindly had me on talking about it, and I’ve been to the European Parliament talking to MEPs about it and I’ve given talks about it.
What kind of stereotypes still exist about epilepsy?
People still refer to seizures as fits, the terminology is still not right and people do still think that if you have epilepsy that’s it, your life is over. But that’s not the case at all. It’s different for everybody depending on the severity of your condition but it is possible to lead a perfectly normal life once you look after yourself. My advice would be to anyone with epilepsy is of course first consult your doctor and get all the medical help you need, but then contact Brainwave and they’ll send you out as much information as they can.