Gerry Ryan, R.I.P., died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday. His name will be on many lips these days and his memory in many hearts for years to come. There will be a silence in many kitchens, lorries, cars, work places even as another voice tries to fill his daily slot on 2FM. For most people, that void will remain and whoever sits daily before a microphone from 9am-Noon will undoubtedly do his or her best but fall very much short. This will be no fault of the broadcaster and, in time, the new voice will find a hearing but, for the foreseeable future, there will be a gap. There is no doubt a unique talent and voice is now silenced. Recordings, Podcasts, video clips will serve as double-edged reminders – reliving some of the good moments but also highlighting how much his many fans have lost.
Was I one of those fans? In honesty the answer would be no. I never fully got the attraction and quite often changed the channel when his ability to push things out there went that bit too far. On such occasions, I was happy to have the escape a CD or another channel offered. Yet there was a draw there. He had the ability to reach a spot somewhere inside of the listener that yielded a response – sometimes laughter, sometimes anger, sometimes admiration and sometimes confusion. He did however evoke a response. A gift indeed.
The greatest gift perhaps was the gift of an open ear. He talked so much but seemed so able to listen as well. This has been commented upon in the past hours. The way he’d give the impression that you were the only one talking to him so that people would speak thoughts that maybe even closest family and friends hadn’t heard, all the while with hundreds of thousands of people sharing the conversation. Certainly he knew that people wanted to talk, he knew what they wanted to talk about and he knew how to listen to them. There were, of course, countless occasions when people benefited much from the conversation. It’s likely too that there were times when people didn’t but, once they had spoken to him, chances are they could take that conversation somewhere else – somewhere more personal and, please God, beneficial.
For giving people that chance, may he be remembered and may he rest in peace.