The shock-jock who became the housewives’ champion

HIS most recent Ryan Confidential show aired just two nights ago and featured a raucous interview with the controversial ex-wife of Paul McCartney, Heather Mills.

The interview, though at times painful to watch, was characteristic of Ryan’s style – forthright, jovial and utterly honest.

Ryan – though gaffe prone – was a truly natural broadcaster who didn’t shy away from the truth, and while the content of his 2fm show was often of the less serious nature, he was not afraid to take on serious issues and often campaigned on health and social matters.

Radio was Ryan’s natural habitat, but his late-night Ryan Confidential TV show enjoyed a measure of success due to its presenter’s flamboyant interviewing style.

The latest series – number eight – saw him tackle fierce businessman Bill Cullen and pull in international names such as Roger Moore, Hugh Hefner and Conan O’Brien. O’Brien, the current host of NBC’s legendary Tonight show, is one of the most influential figures in the US entertainment industry, and seldom interviewed.

Recorded in LA, O’Brien spoke about the pressures of US television, and explained why his skin only feels really comfortable in Ireland.

While in LA, Ryan also conducted an intimate interview at the Playboy Mansion. Hugh Hefner spoke candidly to Gerry about the failure of his marriages – and why, at 83-years-old, he continues to date teenage girls.

Ryan’s adventures on screen, however, were not always so successful.

Ryantown, was described as a “dog’s dinner” and derided as “the low-point of Gerry Ryan’s TV career which has never hit the heights”.

Ryantown was named as one of the Top 10 Worst Irish TV Programmes by one newspaper, and Ryan was later to admit that it was all “horribly half-baked” and “should have been taken off the air after a few shows”.

Ryan though won praise when he presented The Late Late Show on October 24, 2008, when regular presenter Pat Kenny buried his mother.

Unusually for his television career, Ryan received praise for his guest role, even coping well with the traditionally difficult comedian Tommy Tiernan, whose appearances on the show with Kenny had led to complaints. The edition of The Late Late Show that he hosted had the largest audience of any that season apart from the annual edition of The Late Late Toy Show.

In perhaps his most infamous gaffe of all, in 1987, Ryan and a group of volunteers spent time in the countryside of Connemara as part of The Gay Byrne Show. Ryan claimed to have killed and eaten a lamb to survive, earning him the nickname “Lambo,” though the story turned out to be a hoax.

Other memorable blunders include when he wondered if “God was a bollocks” live on air.

Ryan was noted for the enjoyment he took in discussing topics such as sex, bodily functions and food, and once googled images of tapeworm porn.

Last September, he was rapped on the knuckles by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission after he referred to Jesus as a “Palestinian terrorist” he would like to go to the Shelbourne with.

While Ryan’s shock-jock style and personalised approach to presenting did not endear him to all, he nevertheless was the housewives’ champion, with in excess of 300,000 listeners waking up to his musings every morning.

For all his blunders, Ryan was the king of easy-listening morning radio, in command of the airwaves for three hours each morning and his booming voice – whether loved or not – will surely be missed by all.



Breaking Stories

Parking fees to increase in Dublin next summer

80,000 homes in line for excessive usage fee when new water charge system comes in

Provision of homecare supports a 'postcode lottery'

Most Irish people believe their community is kind

Breaking Stories

Café with appetite for change at UCC

Making Cents: Claim tax refunds now, have money before Christmas

Tales of love, life, punk and 4-Play

Where law meets literature

More From The Irish Examiner