Last September I spoke with King of the Wireless, Rick O’ Shea
Chatting with 2fm radio presenter Rick O’ Shea is almost like resuming a conversation with a big brother- older, wiser and not afraid to tell you the truth, he is the type of brother you’d actually take advice from. Since 2001 Rick’s witty tongue and natural charisma have been emanating from the 2fm airwaves, allowing the country to fall in love with his unique humour on a daily basis. His popular show, Rick in the Afternoon has a huge listenership and is famed for its light-hearted and quirky nature, yet Rick himself started off as a university student like us all, not expecting to get into radio.
“I didn’t decide to get into radio, I just fell into it”, says Rick at the beginning of our chat. “I never overly thought about it. I applied to DCU, but didn’t get enough points, so I ended up doing Arts in UCD. I started with the student radio there in 1991. I stumbled into radio really”
While Rick’s 2fm show can be heard blaring in kitchens, hair salons, offices and waiting rooms every weekday afternoon, Rick’s radio career has been one of hard work and commitment, starting from the bottom and working his way to the top. “You know it was a very, very long road. I started student radio in 1991 and did some local radio stations. I ended up in FM104 for 5 and a half years and I started here in 2fm in 2001”After thirteen years on the air, Rick is still quite unsure as to why his show (which he is assisted in by Cormac Battle), is so appealing to audiences. Is there a specific secret to the show’s success?
“I don’t know if I could answer that”, muses Rick “If I could answer that I would bottle it up. I suppose we try not to do what everyone else is doing. A lot of radio shows sound very similar to other radio shows. We try and do something different that makes us stand out from the crowd”
Features on Rick’s show including the humorous “Pointless Piece of Research of the Day” and “Dead or Alive” are certainly comical idiosyncrasies that make the show different in the overly crowded radio schedule of today. Yet even after his own achievement’s in the field of radio, Rick is quick not to encourage young people to get into radio on a whim.
“Think twice about radio. I say this every time I’m asked by student media societies about getting into radio. Think long and hard about it. It’s not a job that you will make a lot of easy money from. A lot of people think it’s easy that it’s just a microphone and someone talking, but it’s much more that that”
Perhaps aware of the frivolous nature of radio, Rick also dabbles in other creative activities. His popular blog features his book club and reviews the plethora of books he reads. Moreover, he also writes a column every second week for Insider Magazine which accompanies the Irish Independent every Thursday. “The stuff I did on the blog is not part of the radio show, which makes it different. I also got asked to write a column for Insider Magazine, in which I was told I could write about anything which is great,” explains Rick.
Since Rick’s blog focuses mainly on books of all sorts of genres, it’s clear that reading is a deep passion of his. Not limiting himself to any genre in particular Rick enjoys everything from Sci-fi to autobiographies, reading one book a week. So where did this affection for reading stem from?“It’s something I fell into when I was a kid” says Rick “Since I was quite small I read extensively. Like a lot of other kids in school you get bogged down with schoolwork, but by the time I got to college I took it up again because I like to read, I like stories and I like books”
Since Rick has such an adoration for the written word, would he ever consider putting pen to paper himself and construct a novel of his own? “It’s something I’ve considered extensively and something I’ve never got further than writing chapter one. I’d never say never, but I’d rather not do it, than do it and make a bad job of it”
While Rick won Celebrity Mastermind in 2012, his involvement in TV has been limited due to a decision on his own part. His dedication to his radio show and writing his blogs has left him with very little spare time to consider diving into the busy world of television. “I never pursued it. It’s something you’ve to put a lot of hard work and effort into. I’ve to work five days a week, nine to five here, but it might happen if it’s something I’m really into”
Another very important aspect of Rick’s life is the work he does on behalf of Epilepsy Ireland. A sufferer of the condition since the tender of sixteen, Rick has learned to live with the condition and has been patron of the organisation since 2006.
“I have been a sufferer of the condition since I was sixteen, it happens to many as children, but some as teenagers. I’ve been working with the organisation since 2006/2007. I saw that they were looking for someone to support them and I was the only one who replied to the email. I get to meet people and bring new information to light. I’ve met lots of people who say nice things. It doesn’t have necessarily change your life completely”
While many of us feel like we are so accustomed with the voice of Rick O’ Shea, speaking to him today allowed me get a glorious glimpse into the life of the man behind the microphone. He truly is a gentleman on and off the airwaves
Rick in the Afternoon airs Mon-Fri 2-4:30pm