Fiddlers and AA Roadwatch

Much has been made of the eclipse of RTÉ's Drivetime programme by Today FM's The Last Word. Much has been also made of what a production mess Drivetime is and the incoherence of latching on a sports programme and then an arts/entertainment hour. Much has been right. Drivetime is a mess, more of a mess than it used to be, which is saying something.


But first a diversion, a slight diversion. Is there no embarrassment or even unease anywhere in RTÉ over the exposure allowed to the Automobile Association, aka the AA, aka AA Roadwatch? No other lobby group is given over free airtime several times a day for its own promotion and the promotion of its lobby interest (ie the motorcar industry), under the guise of providing public information. How is it possible for the AA to know what is happening on the roads other than by going through the Garda and/or CIÉ? Why are these publicly-owned organisations not relied upon to supply traffic information and information generally to the travelling public?

Were they so used, we might, for instance, have exhortations to avail of public transport rather than the motorcar, but for our friends in AA Roadwatch such a suggestion would be anathema. After all if we all did that there would be no role for the AA!

So why then does AA Roadwatch get two slots before 7am, then four slots on Morning Ireland, a slot before 5pm and how many during Drivetime – three? That is 10 slots of, say, two minutes each, so 20 minutes altogether. Every weekday. Isn't there something in the RTÉ mandate that is supposed to forbid such promotion of interest groups? Is there anybody in RTÉ management who gives a

But back to Drivetime.

Is there anybody in RTÉ management who gives a fiddlers about the mess this programme has become? And if there is no such person in RTÉ management, why don't the programme producers fix it themselves? Farm news out, do the Garda/CIÉ info on transport twice, then, for the remainder of the two hours between 5pm and 7m, have some considered, well-researched news items and discussions, with news bulletins on the hour and half hour. Simple. It's what Matt

Cooper and George Hook do so successfully.

This RTÉ programme has been a mess for seven or eight years now, except in the last six months it has got worse with the addition of the Des Cahill sports half hour and then the Dave Fanning breathless add-on from 7pm to 8pm. And speaking of Des Cahill, he used to be a radio star, where did he go? Michael Corcoran, with that delightful Cork accent (all Cork accents are delightful) has taken over the sports star slot with poor Des shunted to the back end of Drivetime.

The Derek Mooney blather-fest from 3pm to 5pm is no success either. Apparently it is doing worse in the ratings than Rattlebag used to do, which is some achievement. Sean Moncrieff on NewsTalk is, by contrast, funny, clever, entertaining, engaging. Everything the Derek Mooney slot is not. A shame, because Derek Mooney is a considerable broadcaster and I suspect there is more to him than he lets on.

RTÉ Radio 1,
5-8pm weekdays

The Last Word
Today FM,
4.30-7pm weekdays

RTÉ Radio 1,
3-5pm weekdays