This much I know: Marian Richardson

I am very lucky to work at what I love.

There is nothing I love more than a radio studio. Making RTÉ Radio One’s Playback is a one woman affair. I listen to the radio from 7am right through the day, usually stopping at 8pm after the arts show Arena.

What I’m listening out for is something that moves me, something that makes me laugh, or feel sad, or that simply makes me think.

I edit the clips as I go along, creating a narrative of the week. I also listen out for pockets of beauty to leaven the bread as, sometimes, the material can be very, very heavy. What I like about working on Playback is that there is a finished product at the end of each week.

Growing up, I was a happy and outgoing child. Our family was quite tribal and I felt very loved. My father managed a tailoring business and besides raising five children, of which I was the second last, my mother was very involved in the world outside the home. It was a political household with many the discussion over dinner. Going out canvassing [for Fianna Fáil] was part of it.

I never had a five year plan. Acting was a passion. As children, we were always putting on our own plays, but I was always interested in politics and journalism as well — and in having fun. After school, I toured with a theatre company, to Belfast and then to London, where I worked freelance at the BBC. 

At the same time, I filed radio interviews back to Dublin, with the Irish in London: on the building sites, in the pubs of Kilburn and Camden. There was a lot of pain and suffering in that community in the 1970s.

Since returning to Ireland, I have worked in RTÉ on everything from Bosco to Drivetime, I have enjoyed working both on air and as a producer and have been very lucky to have worked with some of the finest news and current affairs broadcasters we have.

The radio is on in our house all the time. I want to know what’s going on. I think I would miss not knowing. Fortunately my husband (Michael Good, deputy managing director, News and Current Affairs at RTÉ) is also a news junkie.

When I began doing Playback, I used to stare at the radio, as it if was necessary to do so in order to hear it properly. He pointed out that I could get myself a set of headphones. So I did. And a pedometer. Now, I listen whilst doing other things, like walking Dun Laoghaire pier.

I met Michael when I was working in Belfast in the late 1970s. He was in the Northern office. We didn’t get together until several years later. I have two sons and two stepsons.

I’m quite reflective. And I have a few favourite mantras such as ‘this too will pass.’ It always does. The piece of advice which I would like to pass on to the next generation is that nobody is looking at you. Stop being so self conscious. Fear is a habit. Do not be afraid.

The trait I most admire in others is loyalty. I have found that true friendship is a very rare commodity. Friendships must be treasured and nurtured, otherwise they can vanish.

I have a long list of faults. One of them is a tendency to cut up other people’s meat for them. This could be seen as an act of kindness. It could also be seen as an act of control.

I don’t have to talk all the time. I like hearing what others have to say. And I don’t mind silence. I am about to go on a mindfulness retreat.

I don’t do misery. I will get up and walk or do something. Dealing with overwhelming sadness, however, is a very different thing.

I love cooking but I’m more of an assembler. I can read a recipe and I’m very good at Sunday roasts.

My idea of bliss is spending time around the table with Michael, our sons and friends, with a big leg of lamb from the Blasket Islands and lots of raucous conversation and debate.

So far life has taught me that all the petty slights and anxieties are ephemeral. Being good and kind and loyal are the things that matter.

* Listen to Playback with Marian Richardson at 9am every Saturday on RTE Radio 1.


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