Baloney and Waffles too much to stomach

I have always been a fan of Sean O'Rourke and his lunchtime radio show, News at One, on RTE Radio 1. Informed, intelligent, concise and most importantly clear and easy to understand. There is no waffle on it – a rarity in RTE and elsewhere. You only have to tune in to Ryan Tubridy, Marion Finucane, Pat Kenny, any of them really, to get an articulated truck-load of baloney dumped right on top of you. Not a pleasant experience. O'Rourke sometimes seems awkward with lighter material, and often the subject matter is predictable but I doubt there is a better current affair's broadcaster in the whole country.

Sadly this is not the case with Sean O'Rourke's competitor, Eamon Keane on Newstalk. Firstly, all serious, high profile guests appear on O'Rourke's show, leaving Eamon Keane with Eircom league-standard guests. Secondly, much of the time Eamon Keane is totally unintelligible. He boasts at length about “breaking news stories” on his programme. For instance, he recently spoke to a doctor at the centre of the Portlaoise breast cancer debacle. In the prelude to the interview he went on, and on, and on about this “exclusive” and “very important” interview he was about to conduct. Then he went about trying to explain the context of the interview, but he might as well have been outlining subatomic string theory because he made a total pig's ear of it. I had no idea who this doctor was or what he was supposed to have done. Eventually the interview was aired. It turns out the doctor was foreign and could barely speak English. The quality of the line was so poor it sounded like the he was taking the call from the bottom of a slurry tank. It was the most confusing half hour of radio I've ever heard.

There have been other “important exclusives” – about the Spanish property market for example and another relating to Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern and a paedophile priest. Every time Keane stopped waffling during the latter, he asked his audience, “Are you with me now?” The answer is a resounding “No – I am hopelessly lost!” I'd prefer to listen to Ronan Collins or even Tom McGurk, at least I can understand them.

The worst aspect of Keane is his incessant boasting. Apparently his show won a radio award recently. The RPM awards or something. The day after this glorious victory every one of Keane's guests made a great play of congratulating him live on air, obviously having been coerced into doing so by Keane's supine producer. Who cares about awards? Surely radio is all about listener figures, of which Keane – and Newstalk in general – have practically none.

Newstalk is owned by media mogul Denis O'Brien (who incidentally is always referred to on air, almost fearfully, as “businessman Denis O'Brien”. Why not “Mahon Tribunal super star Denis O'Brien?” or “billionaire tax exile Denis O'Brien?”). If he was serious about the station, he would get Matt Cooper from Today FM (which he also owns) to do either the Lunchtime or even the Breakfast Show slot on Newstalk, because there is little point in him competing with George Hook, easily Newstalk's most successful broadcaster.