Updated: 13/09/17 : 06:16:04
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George Hook got up my nose in Sligo

By Eugene McGloin

GEORGE HOOK pissed me off once in Sligo and I let him know in blunt words.

In a lengthy email to his team I branded Mister Brash as in danger of becoming the Rush Limbaugh of Irish radio.

Go on, look him up, Google him -- Limbaugh that is; George is already a legend at his own breakfast table.

But back to Sligo: In his salad days in radio broadcasting -- in his mid Sixties -- George was guest speaker at a Chamber dinner.

On his radio show the following week we punters heard a patter not unrelated to the Chamber's agenda.

My problem as a listener was simple enough: Points of view presented on his show (and some affected my own everyday community) were one-sided, I believed.

There never was the courtesy of an acknowledgement or reply to my email.

That is NOT unique in the so-called ''communications'' industry in Ireland.

Spool forward a decade and George and his team find that not all (opposing) points of view can be as easily fobbed off.

Significant Goodwill

I'm surprised at George Hook: His gift is at being a contrarian, a controversialist. 

The Smiths had a song, ''Bigmouth Strikes Again,'' and if his employers had sense and style that is how they would have marketed him.

Hook is gifted at radio broadcasting, both good and a natural. He has added significant goodwill over the years to the commercial worth of the name of Newstalk. 

Added a damn more than some of the squaks for George's head on a plate. 

There are a couple of non-negotiable 'No No' rules in journalism and the biggie arose again this past week.

Namely, NO advertiser should ever be left/led to believe he/she can influence or excise editorial output.

That includes through threats to withdraw advertising or withhold advertising.

Too Green

Separately, Mary Coughlan, the singer, strayed back into the public spotlight this week.

How? She walked off the show of a presenter who had nothing at all to do with the dispute at hand. 

This be the same Mary Coughlan whose '"'Tired and Emotional'' I named disc of the year on one hearing before most people had ever heard of her. 

This be the same Mary Coughlan whose song, ''My Land is Too Green'' I disliked immensely and intensely, still do.

But I still buy her stuff; as Pat Spillane famously reminds us: ''Form is temporary but class is permanent.'' 

No Exemptions

In a past Life I spent some instructive years on the Irish executive of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

If I was still there, not for sixty seconds would I tolerate, or seek to protect, ANY employee calling on an employer to remove a staff colleague. No exemptions.

Freedom of speech in democracies can sometimes be ugly -- ugly that is 'til you see places where contrarians are stifled, are suppressed, are slaughtered. 

Media Pettiness

 My own brief experience of George Hook is that his notion of freedom of speech was (far too) subjective, a 'gift' given and taken away like child's sweets.

But that type of media pettiness is not confined to, or patented by, George Hook. 

In my experience over the past four decades, George Hook might even be the least of its sinners.