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Lynette Fay: Like TV, radio is changing but thankfully we're still mostly radio heads

I was at a talk the other day and one of the experts commented that the notion of ‘radio', to many people, is very old fashioned. To me it is timeless – but it is changing

Blindboy, also known as Blindboy Boatclub, one half of Limerick comedy hip-hop duo The Rubberbandits, is recording an interview with Bernadette McAliskey at the Ulster Hall tonight
Lynette Fay

I MET someone recently who doesn’t have live television in his home. He watches on demand only. Even though I rarely sit down to ‘watch television’ or flick through the channels, I like to have the live option, for fear of missing out. However, given the world of choice we live in, I am having a rethink.

Most TV channels have Apps so we can watch on demand or watch live, so I don’t really need a live TV connection. I definitely don’t review the services I have and how much I pay for them as often as I should.

Someone please ask me next week if I’ve got around to that yet.

The longer evenings, darker days and colder weather bring with them the temptation to stay in doors, snuggle up and watch more television. Apart from The Bodyguard, Game of Thrones and perhaps Strictly, I wonder if many of us make an appointment to sit down and watch live telly anymore? If we do, I would hazard a guess that this rarely happens without a mobile device in hand ‘to see what social media is saying’.

I love to get lost in a good box set. The Deuce is keeping me occupied at present and I will definitely be making some time to keep up to date with the new series of both Narcos and House of Cards when they stream next month.

I am a ‘radio head’ through and through. I turn the radio on first thing and I have a list of particular programmes that I listen to regularly at certain times of the day.

The immediacy and reactive nature of this medium have always appealed to me. When I was younger, I was consumed by radio. I listened mostly to 2FM and hung on every word of the DJ on duty – especially Dave Fanning, Tony Fenton, Ian Dempsey and Gareth O’Callaghan. I trusted them as music curators and I would pounce on the radio to record my favourite songs and had a mix tape for every mood.

Most voices on prime time radio were male so I never imagined that this was something I could do. You really do have to see it – or in this case hear it – to be it.

At time of writing, Zoe Ball has just been announced as the successor to Chris Evans on the UK’s number one radio show, the Radio 2 Breakfast Show. Social media has gone into overdrive at this news and, sadly, a lot of the comments are negative. She hasn’t started the job yet – surely any judgment should be reserved until she has been on air for a while, if she should be judged at all.

Bedding into a new slot is a big challenge but the challenge is part of the attraction in this world. Trying out new subjects, music, voices is part of the excitement.

I make radio programmes each weekend on BBC Radio Ulster and I really enjoy what I do. Every day is very different and I get to meet very interesting people all the time. Just like television, radio as we know it is changing. I was at a talk the other day and one of the experts commented that the notion of ‘radio’, to many people, is very old fashioned. To me it is timeless – but it is changing.

It’s all about giving the audience a richer experience. We can now watch radio programmes online, catch up on programmes when it suits us and access radio from around the world via various Apps.

Podcasts are big business. Like everything, the approach to the perfect podcast is subjective. I do think that the platform provides for greater, in depth discussion of subject matter that is perhaps awkward, controversial or niche.

Blindboy is currently nailing it, and has the download figures to prove it. He has spent the past three weeks superbly discussing cognitive behavioural therapy at length. He also records his podcast occasionally in front of a live audience. He returns to Belfast tonight to record an interview with Bernadette McAliskey in the Ulster Hall and tickets are like hen’s teeth. Check him out if you haven’t already.

Although we are presented with more and more audio choice, I believe that we are still a radio nation. Well, I would – it keeps me in a job – for now.

And finally… congratulations to the winners of the IMRO radio industry awards, which were presented in Kilkenny last night.

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