Last Tuesday, Today FM’s Matt Cooper took his show The Last Word on tour, broadcasting live from Aras na MacLeinn in Galway. Myself and some other Flirt FM staff went along to help out and here’s what went down behind the scenes of Ireland’s most popular drivetime show (besides the Flirt FM Happy Hour, obvs!)
When we first arrived, Matt was sat behind a giant branded Today FM screen like the all-powerful Oz. Did Matt Cooper have stage fright, we wondered? The screen was quickly moved into position behind the man himself, almost as if he could hear our thoughts. Maybe he had more in common with the Great Oz than we realized. Expect something different indeed!
The theme of the show was all things Galway and, in true Galway fashion, Supermacs, the Arts, Connacht Rugby and Buckfast were all hot topics of conversation from the wide range of guests, panelists and contributors on what was truly a jam packed show.
Coinciding with the release of the World University Rankings in which NUIG jumped 22 places and was the only Irish University to move up the rankings, the timing for this live broadcast could not have been better. The beginning of the program saw Matt discussing the implications of cuts to University funding with Caroline Loughnane, Academic Secretary at NUIG and Prof. John Boland, Dean of Research at Trinity College. Next up was Natalie Treacy, Sinn Fein Counsellor in Castleknock talking about the shortage of beds in Beaumont Hospital for those with Acquired Brain Injuries and malignant tumours before talk turned to mobile phone apps that aid safer driving, surely a glaring oxymoron?
As we ushered the audience in to take their seats during the news, word filtered through that all round sound man and owner of Supermacs, Pat McDonagh, had kindly brought along some pizzas and the night was off to a flying start! Comedian Bob Henegan, originally a Mayo man and now a member of the largest ethnic group in Galway kept the crowd well entertained as he discussed with NUIG PHD Psychology researcher Elaine Byrne whether Galway was deserving of it’s “friendliest city” moniker. While Elaine waxed lyrical about the native’s genuine and sincere interest in the “stuff of other people’s lives” and the “evocative and magical experience of the Arts Festival”, Matt was quick to draw comparisons between herself and one-man Galway promotion machine Uachtaran na hEireann, Michael D. Henegan was quick to counter with a sharply observed spiel about the inevitable “mushroom cloud of dreadlocked hippies” descending on Eyre Square each Summer to “find themselves” playing bongo drums and juggling balls. I won’t spoil the ending but it’s well worth listening back to and you can find the link to Matt’s podcast below. Bob Henegan will be back for the Vodafone Galway Comedy Carnival in the Roisin Dubh on 25th October.
The shortage of accommodation, entrepreneurship in Galway and the opening of the Portershed were all up for discussion before the Students v Lecturers quiz (the Lecturers pipped it by a single point) To round out the show, some of the Rabbo Direct Pro12 winning Connacht Rugby team popped in for a grilling following their defeat to the Glasgow Warriors last weekend. Music-wise, Achill singer-songwriter Graham Sweeney and the kinda acapella group the Testostertones hit all the right notes and had the crowd tapping along with them.
As aspiring radio presenters, it was hugely interesting for us to get a glimpse of exactly how much work, research and co-ordination goes into a single show. Listening to the radio it’s easy to forget that there are a whole team of researchers, sound engineers and runners scurrying around like ants to ensure the whole thing ticks over nicely. The Last Word team were slick and efficient and everyone knew precisely what their role was. It was definitely a lesson in organization and I’m sure we all picked up a few tricks that we’ll be bringing home to Flirt FM for future reference.
Thanks to Matt Cooper and all the team at the Last Word for having us!
Flirt FM staff pictured with Matt Cooper, The Last Word on Today FM in NUIG