Out for Coffee with Rick O’Shea

out for coffee rick oshea1

Rick O’Shea (pictured) isn’t your normal radio presenter, not content with his RTÉ 2fm afternoon slot he’s the Patron of Epilepsy Ireland, the winner of RTÉ’s Celebrity Masterchef, involved in writing a play for Under My Bed – an initiative where celebrities get to draft and perform a small stage piece charting the underworld hidden below their beds – an avid blogger, a voracious reader (some 30 books this year and counting are documented on his Rikipedia blog) and a slightly obsessed Tweeter (under the hashtag #obscureinjuries a follower admitted dislocating his knee while slipping on his trousers).

He’s constantly popping up on national TV fronting a Tell Me a Story series on RTÉ Junior and speaking about living with Epilepsy on the Late Late. It’s an impressive list of accomplishments for a man who’s only 40, but where did it all begin?

LC: So, tell me where it all began?
ROS: I was born in Drimnagh, where my Mum and Dad lived in flats, they lived with their parents – on opposite balconies – until we got a house in Crumlin.

LC: Why Radio?
ROS:When I was 15 there was a radio station running a competition where you could win €10,000 worth of prizes. I got through to the final but I didn’t win; nobody’s going to give €10,000 to a 15-year-old. I met a couple of people while at the radio station that said “you could do this for a living” and something in my head agreed.

LC: How did you eventually get into radio?
ROS: I’d no real interest in radio, I had mates who had stations in their bedrooms, I wasn’t one of those people – I just fell into it accidentally. While studying Arts at UCD they were starting their first student radio station – UCD FM, now Belfield FM – so I stumbled through the door.
I had about six weeks experience in a hospital radio station, so I was the most experienced person there. After that I went to Ballyfermot for a year, to study Broadcasting and Journalism. I then got some runner work at East Coast FM. That’s how you get jobs in radio.

LC: It’s really about luck, then?
ROS: A lot of people say it’s about knowing people, I’d say it’s about meeting people. When I first started out I didn’t know anybody at all, I knew a couple of guys when I was 15, three, four, five years down the line they remembered me.
I got the East Coast FM gig through a guy I knew and the Atlantic 252 gig through a guy who just remembered me. I was there for a year and a half, I was in FM104 for five years and I’ve been here in 2fm since 2001.

LC: Have you liked working in radio all these years?
ROS: You go through phases when you’re really enthusiastic about what you do and it depends on where you are, who you’re working with, what time you’re on, how the station is going.

I’ve gone through times where I think ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore’ but then you say it’s the only thing I’ve ever done. There are guys who do this and say ‘yeah, it’s the greatest thing ever!’ but they’re lying to you. At the moment, I really like what we’re doing and I really like the guys I work with and every day I can pretty much do what I want.

LC: What do you do when you’re not working?
ROS: I do everything. I have three kids so I enjoy spending time with them, I read a lot. I watch movies a lot [he prefers anything foreign], I like travelling, I go to the movies, did I mention that twice?

LC: Yeah, what’s the obsession there?
ROS: I don’t know I caught onto it quite young, some are more interesting than others. I ended up being a movie reviewer in a newspaper once and that was just because I liked it. I wonder about people who say ‘I don’t like movies’ that’s like saying you don’t like food.

LC: Do you think you’ll ever quit radio?
ROS: When the lottery comes into it. I know that everybody thinks that people from RTÉ go home in the evening and smoke a cigar but if you look at the list of what people earn they’re on good money, but there are other people who are on pretty average salaries. If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d be gone. I’d travel a lot; I’d spend a few weeks in America with my family.

By Liam Cahill