herald

Monday 25 September 2017

C'mon, give Lucy a break

She should be applauded for having the courage to step into the Gerry Ryan slot, not treated with scorn

They went to town on her at the weekend.

Spot the weakling and spew the poison. Lucy Kennedy was the butt of all of the critics' jokes over the past two days after a week that saw her presenting in the most difficult-to-fill slot on Irish radio.

Lucy had to go in again this morning and sit in front of the microphone, despite being savaged in most papers after she agreed to fill in for a month on 2fm following the death of Gerry Ryan.

The scrutiny of the critics is a fact of life for radio presenters -- I am one and I know that sometimes, they get it right.





Sympathy

That very interview where you know that you missed a question, or agreed when you shouldn't have, is the very one that they were listening to and you will rightly be held to account.

But I felt real sympathy for Lucy Kennedy at the weekend when I read the reviews that slated her and her co-host, Colm Hayes.

When an institutional figure like Gerry Ryan dies, what does a radio station do?

It asks who will fill in until they can get their thoughts together and come up with a formula that will work.

It will take months, and even years, for the listeners of the Gerry Ryan Show to recover and begin to deal with their loss.

In the meantime there are three hours of air-time that need to be filled on 2fm, and someone had to do it.

My guess is that the fill-in was always going to be derided as being rubbish. No matter who tried to sit in that chair, they would never be Gerry, and the grief is so raw and so new that a presenter who attempted to assume his crown would be immediately shot down.

More experienced broadcasters know that the transition from Gerry Ryan to rebirth is going to take a long, long time -- it's why most of them won't touch his radio show.

But someone had to do it and while I don't know either Lucy Kennedy or Colm Hayes very well, I do admire their bravery. However, they are paying the price for giving it their best shot.

To the best of my knowledge, they have never worked together before and as someone who has been thrown together with male co-hosts at a minute's notice, I know how long it takes for that relationship to adjust and begin to sound normal.





Humane

Their job is to provide something tangible to fill the time until a more permanent solution is found to fill the massive silence left by Gerry Ryan.

Is it fair or even humane then to take them to task if they are found to be awkward, unrehearsed or jarring in their first week?

Think what it must have been like to walk into that studio and sit down behind that microphone just days after the man was laid to rest.

Radio presenters can feel sore for a day after a critic has a lash at our performance -- my most recent scolding came from a woman who suggested that I stood aside, sighed and smoothed down my frock, before allowing my co-host, Ivan Yates, to savage the Minister for Finance in manly fashion.

I'm experienced enough to allow the water run off my duck feathers, but critics who had a pop at anyone who was brave enough to step into Gerry Ryan's studio, are, in my view, being grossly unfair.

2fm's mid-morning slot was never going to be any good post-Gerry -- certainly not in the short term anyway.

It would be a travesty if Lucy Kennedy's career was damaged as a result of the harsh words fired in her direction over the past few days. It's a tough job and she should be given some credit for having the guts to do it.

But if you really can't take 2fm in the mornings, my colleague, Tom Dunne, is a wonderful option on Newstalk 106 -108FM between 9am and noon.

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