- 05 Jun 20
The Today FM presenter on his new extended show, broadcasting during the pandemic and listeners re-embracing radio.
There’s great news for Irish music fans with the announcement that Paul McLoone’s Today FM show will now have a new Sunday night slot from this weekend, with the show broadcast from 10pm to 1am. It’s an extension of McLoone’s popular weekday programme, and he explains that the idea has been in the pipeline for a while.
“I first got an inkling that we might be developing a Sunday show a few weeks ago,” he notes. “But with the Covid crisis, we didn’t have a chance to get it up and running. It was decided until things developed a little more positively in that regard, we would let the idea sit. So it got pushed down the agenda a bit, but I’m delighted that the show is happening, because I was really looking forward to it.”
Will the Sunday slot have a different feel?
“Yes and no,” replies Paul. “There’s a certain kind of landscape that’s established during the week, so it would be recognisably that. When the weekday show went from three hours to two, it became a bit more compact and rigid in certain ways. Hopefully, the Sunday programme can act as a bit of a corrective, and allow me to be a bit more exploratory in terms of genres and certain artists.
“It also gives me an extra hour to showcase a bit more Irish music, and I can use Sunday as a launchpad into the week for that. The programme can go a bit deeper and wider, and it gives me a chance to explore the places I mightn’t be able to during the week.”
McLoone also notes that Sunday nights lend themselves to a more relaxed style of broadcasting.
“That slot has a certain kind of feel,” he says. “It will draw on that mood, within the context of what I do during the week. Particularly as it gets into the small hours, hopefully you’ll get a more laidback, headphones-y kind of vibe. That’s a natural thing – I don’t even particularly force that, it just happens.
“I’ve always wanted to do something in that style. Funnily enough, during the week, there were certain things I was dying to play – and midnight was almost a little early. On Sundays, I’m hoping to have that late night/early hours, intimate atmosphere. It naturally suits the time slot, you don’t even have to overthink it – it’s the mood that sets in.”
Many broadcasters have worked from home during the pandemic, but McLoone has been able to work in-studio.
“I think everybody had a bit of a go of doing it from home,” he says. “I’m really glad that I didn’t – it wouldn’t have been convenient for me and it wouldn’t have suited me terribly well. I’m one of the few people who plays the music physically, it’s not in any kind of system or file: I only play CDs and vinyl. For my purposes, those formats are actually quite handy.
“I can put the music on air straight away and I don’t have to mess around with uploading this or that. It’s more stimulating than just looking at lists of things, and it also sounds better.”
It seems as if listeners have been re-embracing radio during the Covid crisis – has McLoone noticed a difference?
“I’ve definitely noticed people being a bit livelier on the texting, that’s for sure,” he reflects. “Late at night, it’s often hard to gauge who you’re really speaking to and who’s really out there. A lot of times, you’ve got to just hope for the best, and surprisingly, there’s a lot of competition in that particular area.
“But I have noticed a difference, and certainly anecdotally, radio has enjoyed a boom time. I just know that from some research I’ve seen popping up here and there. Night-time, I imagine, has enjoyed a certain benefit with people engaging. As you know, in this country, we have this very strong relationship with radio going back generations.
“Maybe I’m just being romantic, but I think there is something about the voice at night, and the intimate conversation between the presenter and listener. Particularly so at a time when people might be looking for something a bit calming, healing and Zen – something to tune into, literally.”
Paul McLoone’s Sunday show starts June 7, and goes out from 10pm to 1am.