Just what exactly is it that makes radio so appealing to the Irish? Is it the chatty nature of it? The companionship it offers? Its relatability? Or might it simply be due to the fact that radio (as well as TV) has the power to distract you from, well, reality, I guess. Of course, each and every Irish radio lover will have a distinct reasoning behind their love for all things radio. Mine? Well, all of the above really. Let’s go through a list of possible reasons as to why radio might be such an attractive commodity throughout our island.
1. It can offer many different things
Whatever way we look at it, radio is and has been an essential element of life in Ireland ever since its broadcast birth in 1925. In whatever situation an Irish person finds him or herself in, radio is always there by our side. To comfort us. To inform us. To provide us with a sense of unity. To give us a voice. To relate to, or perhaps to allow us to easily, confidentially and safely reach out for help or advice.
With radio, you never quite feel alone. It offers something for everyone, which ultimately defines its uniqueness and its special pull factor quality that has had myself hooked on radio for as long as I can remember. It effortlessly allows the imagination to run wild and has the innate ability to soothe us in our darkest moments.
More often than not, radio is used as easy-to-listen-to background noise. Commonly, the majority of daytime Irish radio listeners will be cleaning the house, working or driving somewhere. What better way to get through your tedious routine than to listen to the most popular music in the country at that given time or an easy-to-listen-to chat-show style radio programme?
3. A simple distraction
Be honest: how many times have you felt yourself being “trapped” in an unwanted please get me out of here situation while car-sharing with your boring work colleague? Too many, right? All of a sudden panicked and saturated in an awful state of social anxiety, didn’t a wave of relief come over you as it dawned on you that there was a quick and easy way out of this uncomfortable situation? Radio on. No awkward small talk or uneasy silence. Thank you, radio, thank you!
4. Its relatability
Radio, to me (and I’m sure to many other Irish people) is extremely enticing due to one simple reason: it’s relatability. No matter what kind of show you often tend to tune in to, Irish radio presenters have this innate ability to make you feel like you’re their friend: they understand you, they want you to feel safe in the knowledge that your voice and your opinion matter.
As humans (and especially as Irish people) we simply love being understood. We simply adore being able to relate to someone or something, and that’s the very reason radio can sometimes be our best friend. Irish radio presenters, using their charmingly friendly nature to their advantage, will often instinctively seek relatability with their audience. Whether it be through “tell me what you got up to during the weekend” questions or typically-Irish “I just laid on the couch binge-watching Netflix all weekend” self-deprecation, listener relatability is almost always achieved.
5. The chats
Ireland, as a nation, is widely regarded as being a country full of chatter boxes, people who love nothing more than to have the chats with a cup of Barry’s or Lyons Tea. Nothing more appealing exists for a typically-busy Irish mother-of-four than to put the feet up with a cup of coffee or tea at 11am ish whilst listening to a topical RTÉ Radio 1 talk-show.
6. Minimal concentration needed
At the end of the day, radio, for all its worth, requires little attention, which makes it a whole lot easier for it to appeal to us humans who are constantly switched on. The beauty of radio is that you can tune in without tuning in, in the sense that you might not necessarily have to pay particular close attention to what you’re listening to.
7. Escape from reality
Listening to radio (depending on the type of programme, of course) can transport you from the reality you find yourself in whilst radio-listening to a completely distinct one where the human imagination runs free. Concentration is rarely required when the radio is on, and your worries can suddenly, albeit temporarily, vanish in an instant thanks to radio.
8. The need to stay up-to-date
It’s human nature kicking into force: we all crave knowing what’s going on around us in our immediate and not so immediate surroundings. Six times out of ten, Irish people will start a conversation with “did you you hear about” or “have you seen that”. In order to feel that little bit more included in your given community, a priority for many of us Irish, tuning into your local radio station every now and again is vitally important to stay updated with all you need to know.
Having said all…
Having gone through all these possible reasons for loving this form of entertainment, I just have to say that radio can be an Irish person’s best friend due to its richness in diversity. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as an Irish person, I can safely say radio in Irelandcertainly offers us quite a lot.