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Adored for his no-nonsense style and accused of shock jock tactics in equal measure, this year Victor Barry celebrates a decade at Red FM. The host of Cork Talks Back steps away from the mic for a chat with Craig Fitzpatrick. The topics? Exploding penises, indecent exposure – and planning to piss on the Blarney Stone with Russell Brand.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 13 Jun 2012
You must be able to relate to the amount of stress he was under. Filling those three hours every day must be extremely demanding.
It is. Particularly when you’re on prime time in the mornings, you’ve a lot of competition so you don’t want to give anybody an opportunity to turn off or flick over to the competition. It’s down to preparation. I know it’s the old Roy Keane mantra but I think that if you prepare, then if something does go wrong, you can fix it.
Did it take you long to find your true voice as a broadcaster?
About a year ago somebody gave me an audio cassette of one of my first shows. I was just so embarrassed, it was absolutely brutal. Just a disaster from start to finish. I sounded like I didn’t have a clue: there was dead air, there were constant mistakes. But you learn really quickly. That’s where some of the pressure comes in, because if you don’t get better week on week, month on month, there’s something wrong.
Looking back over the last ten years, are there moments that stand out?
From a local point of view we’ve done an awful lot for Cork. We’ve done quite a bit on the show about mental illness, eating disorders and so on. On the lighter side we’ve had some absolutely demented conversations, the typical ‘north side, south side’ Cork thing, where it ended up me swearing at somebody on air saying “fuck you!”
You’re referring to the infamous incident in 2005 when you were discussing the perceived divide in the city and ended up turning the airwaves blue. What happened?
A guy just rang up and it kicked off. My girlfriend, my wife now, is from the north side and he was badgering away around that. I was going to myself, “just be professional about it.” Then he said something towards the end of the show, around midnight, and I just literally lost my fucking sense of reason. “I’m throwing professionalism out the window,” I said, “you know what, I’ve never met such an asshole like you.” He kept coming back at me and I said you “fuck you!” and dropped the line on him. There was pandemonium as one can imagine, the producer was running around the place like his head was going to explode. Then the following day there wasn’t as much excitement about it, in a negative sense. It turned out that people thought it was great. Don’t get me wrong, I did get my knuckles rapped severely – but people understood what was behind it. There’s no point in me lying because people can smell bullshit a mile off anyway.