By Rachael Kane – March 22, 2017 (buzz.ie)
Rachael Kane goes behind the scenes of The Nicky Byrne Show to get all the gossip from Nicky and co-host Jenny Greene.
“The beast has to be fed every day.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking those were the immortal words of King Kong’s handler or Donald Trump’s chef perhaps, but no.
That’s how Zbyszek Zalinski describes his job as producer of 2FM’s The Nicky Byrne Show with Jenny Greene, going live across the nation for three hours every weekday and attracting a listenership of over 130,000.
He, fellow producer Caroline Clarke (they alternate days), Lorraine Dunne (broadcast coordinator) and Amanda Fennelly (assistant producer) are the engine that drives the busy programme.
I went behind the scenes at RTE Radio Centre in Donnybrook to see what really happens on the show.
In the pre-show production meeting, the team runs through what’s coming up over the following three hours.
Although the broadcast is music heavy and banter filled, it still takes serious fodder to keep an audience satisfied.
Then we head to the studio where the Breakfast Republic team (Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O’Shea and Keith Walsh) bail out and the next squad sit in their still warm seats.
Seconds later, Nicky and Jenny are on air.
Lorraine filters phone calls, emails, messages, texts, tweets, snapchats, WhatsApps (need I go on?), while Zbyszek, or Speedo as he’s affectionately known, acts like human spam machine, sending through only what’s necessary into the earphones of the presenters.
“You read all sorts,” laughs Lorraine, who appears to have about 70 different windows up on her double screen desktop.
Somehow, amidst the mayhem of production staff, guests, and irritating media types popping in and out between songs, Nicky and Jenny remain on their game.
Once their tricolour headphones are on, their focus is as impenetrable as their energy levels.
The mothership could burst into flames but on the other side of the glass the pair would carry on discussing topics as varied as a Pug dressed-up as Princess Leia to the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
“I skip doing squats in the gym because I spend all day jumping up and down out of my seat,” laughs Nicky.
His passion is infectious.
“Have you ever heard of Dursey Island? It’s at the tip of the Beara Peninsula in Cork. If you bring a radio there you can listen to this show. I always think about that; how radio can reach the most remote places. We have a responsibility to everyone, everywhere to make every show the best possible. That’s the power of radio, it’s a huge privilege,” he explains.
“It takes you a while to come down after a show,” Jenny admits. She’s three years into an on-air partnership with Nicky.
“It was either going to be brilliant or horrendous when the powers-that-be put us together and thankfully it hasn’t been too horrendous,” she laughs.
It’s just been announced that Jenny and the RTE Concert Orchestra are bringing their set to Dublin’s 3Arena on April 21 and the Marquee in Cork on June 17 after the stunning DJ sent several thousand volts up the backside of Electric Picnic during her performance last year.
“I was terrified I’d be in a tent with this huge orchestra and 100 people standing in muck looking up at us,” she admits.
Instead several thousand jammed in.
But Jenny isn’t like other radio stars. The added fame over the past few months doesn’t sit so easily with her.
“It’s grand because there are 49 other people on stage,” she insists, referring to the orchestra and the lungs of singer Gemma Sugrue, all sharing the spotlight.
“I love being on the radio but sometimes I’m not great in front of crowds. I do find that nerve wracking which is strange considering the profession I’ve gotten into.
“I think people imagine that when you’re doing this kind of job that you’re really extroverted and you’re really out there. In some ways that’s why we work so well together. Nicky is like my safety net, and I don’t have to put myself out there so much when he’s around.”
Although safety might not be the former Westlife star’s forte — Nicky is sporting a bandaged hand after burning himself in the kitchen the previous day.
On a serious note Jenny adds: “I want this, what’s happening in my career right now, to go on for as long as it can.
“Nicky has plenty of other avenues to pursue, but for me personally, this might be as good as it gets. I don’t want to look back in eight years and say god that was an amazing period in my life and I really didn’t appreciate it. I’d be happy if things never got any better than this because they are pretty brilliant,” she says.
With Nicky working five days on radio and the remaining two as co-host of Dancing With The Stars, we ask if Jenny has any interest in telly work.
“I know there’s this impression that everyone needs to aspire to TV but I’m happy to do live radio and walk out the door when it’s done. Unless they do an Irish version of Naked Attraction, now THAT I’d present!” she says exploding in to laughter, referring to the British dating game show in which contestants strip off to find a date.
As for taking part as a contestant in Dancing With The Stars, Nick interjects: “I want her to do it!
“Jenny owns one dress and one pair of high heels. Can you imagine her getting into all those dresses and high heels and glitter! It would be worth anything to see that,” he smiles.
“Who knows?” replies Jenny. With another burst of laughter, she adds: “As Nicky would say, I wouldn’t rule anything in or out.”
With International Women’s Day a not-so-distant memory, and all things being equal we can’t help but ask an obvious question; why is it called ‘The Nicky Byrne Show’?
“Just for the record, I’ve no issue with that,” Jenny jumps in.
Nicky adds: “You’re the first person that’s actually asked that question straight out, and I’ve no issue answering it.” (Phew!)
“From the very beginning, from Dan’s point of view (Dan Healy head of RTE 2FM) he felt that if it had been called the ‘Nicky and Jenny Show’, people would just be like, sure who are Nicky and Jenny?
“They were effectively putting Nicky Byrne’s name on it because I was known from Westlife and that’s it.
“It was never about feminism or her earning more or less than me or left and right,” he adds.
That’s that sorted!
The Nicky Byrne Show (with Jenny Greene) airs weekdays 10am to 1pm on 2FM. Pics by Gary Ashe.