Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 27 January 2015

New-look Talkback off to sluggish start

Larne. And transport. Two words not normally associated with heated debate or controversy.

So perhaps not the best basis for the opening show of the revamped Talkback.

As part of a shake-up of Radio Ulster’s schedule, the award-winning Talkback has been given a new jingle and new presenter. The inimitable David Dunseith has gone — replaced by the experienced broadcaster Wendy Austin.

Listeners of the show would say that Dunseith was always going to be hard act to follow, but a presenter of Austin’s calibre should have no problems.

Maybe it was that flat feeling that comes with a grey Monday morning. Or the choice of Carnfunnock Country Park in Larne as the venue for an outside broadcast. Or the fact that there’s only so much excitement that trains and trams can generate. But yesterday’s Talkback was, well, just not that interesting.

Austin steered the show in her usual cool, unflappable manner. But even she couldn’t inject some much-needed contention into a programme about Northern Ireland’s public transport system.

An invited audience to the OB in Larne — the town where Austin began her journalistic career — were given their say, while listeners were encouraged to text or ring in.

But even those with an opinion to air sounded slightly bored.

The show choo-chooed along at a slightly slow pace, but will no doubt pick up speed as the week goes on.

Just let’s talk about something a bit more thought-provoking than roads and rail.

Good Morning Ulster was also facing changed times yesterday with a new jingle and new presenting team.

GMU regular Conor Bradford was joined by Mark Carruthers in a new slot for him. Karen Patterson will also be joining the AM team. Wendy’s former morning colleague Seamus McKee is now in charge of Evening Extra while David Dunseith will present Seven Days from September 6.

BBC NI director Peter Johnston said it would “give this experienced team a chance to try new things”.

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