When the red light goes on in studio every Saturday morning, I am more times than not sitting alone talking into a microphone.
Obviously I can’t see my audience but there are over a quarter of a million of them listening. That is a lot of paying customers wanting bang for their buck. People often ask if I have a favourite programme or interview. I always reply that it hasn’t happened yet. And the day I feel I’ve done the perfect show, it’ll be my last.
But no matter how well an interview may run, I’ll always kick myself that it could have gone better
I employ the old adage that if this week’s show went well, then next week’s must go better. In the entertainment business, you’re really only as good as your last show. So it can feel like being a performing monkey.
We all remember where we were that day. I was on my way home from Abbeyleix having interviewed Anna May McHugh
You have got to be on your toes. But no matter how well an interview may run, I’ll always kick myself that it could have gone better. Last Saturday 11 September, was the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.
We all remember where we were that day. I was on my way home from Abbeyleix having interviewed Anna May McHugh at a press conference she called to announce that due to the continuing foot and mouth threat, the Ploughing Championships were being cancelled that year.
I was tuned into Liveline and heard Conor O’Clery give Joe Duffy a live running commentary from his Manhattan balcony about what was happening.
My erstwhile RTÉ colleague Ciaran Mullooly returning from the same press conference and driving on the motorway behind me phoned and suggested we stop off in a pub to watch what was happening. So that is where I was on 9/11.
Last year was the first time since 2001 that the Ploughing had been cancelled outrigh
This week, the National Ploughing Championships did go ahead but without the crowds and exhibition area.
Last year was the first time since 2001 that the Ploughing had been cancelled outright but this year, at least it was back in part. So we decided to see would Anna May take a call last Saturday morning and I was delighted when she said she would because Anna May is so popular and as I said, we strive each week to broadcast entertaining, enlightening and enchanting stories and news and as they say in the business, the likes of Anna May are “box office”.
We opened the programme with a lovely chat with Anna May who was her usual upbeat positive self in outlining how this year’s event would run. Leaving the studio, we were pretty pleased that we had just broadcast another solid programme, going into our 13th season.
As I drove home, my other half, the former CNN anchor Gina London texted to tell me she was on her way to Virgin Media to do an interview on Ireland AM about where she was on 9/11, about her memories of that day as a reporter dispatched to New York to cover the story.
Listeners would have been none the wiser, but it is the nature of the business that we kick ourselves for not asking the right question
Then it hit me. I had missed a trick, a big boo-boo. I slapped the dashboard of the car scolding myself out loud: “My first question to Anna May McHugh should have been, ‘Anna May, I interviewed you this day 20 years ago, do you remember that?’”
Listeners would have been none the wiser, but it is the nature of the business that we kick ourselves for not asking the right question or getting stuff wrong on air. And last Saturday morning, a bit like Mayo that evening, I missed an open goal to allow Anna May share that story of the day the Ploughing was cancelled on 9/11.
Not so long ago, Simon Coveney was a shoe-in for next Fine Gael leader. The Katherine Zappone kerfuffle might have put paid to that. All Paschal Donohoe needs do is stay clear of trouble now!