COLUMN: Commuting habits into Clonmel now like that of a radio DJ

Darren Hassett writing in this week's Nationalist

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

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I am commuting from Carlow every day and my habits on the one hour drive in the morning and evening have been developing and changing as the weeks and months have gone by.

We have a Nespresso machine at home and we buy Frank & Honest coffee capsules so I’ve taken to making one each morning and putting it into my reusable coffee cup.

This has become more of a necessity as the weeks have gone by, I have to find some way of staying awake in the early hours of Monday morning on my way to Clonmel.

That and some pieces of fruit, nothing beats a good apple, and I’m all set until I get my Quimby’s chicken goujon wrap, bag of salt and vinegar Keogh’s and a cappuccino at noon.

I started off really detesting the commute - which drags me through three different counties. But I’m starting to find lots of little ways to entertain myself on the drive.

You might disagree, but members of the media are classed as essential workers during the lockdown so I find myself daring the gardaí in Grangemockler every morning to ask for my letter which proves I’m allowed to travel outside my county.

I’m always strangely disappointed when I’m waved through a checkpoint without being stopped at least to hear the, “How are ya? What’s the purpose of your journey today?”

I pass through lots of places between Clonmel and Carlow. There’s Glenbower, where I experience the obligatory loss of coverage.

I always call at least two friends or one parent on my way home. I call one on this side of Glenbower and another friend/parent on the other side. In the morning I listen to RTÉ Radio One for the sea and air weather forecast. I find it quite meditative.

But the biggest change has been the car I’m driving. I’m using my wife’s Audi A6 and it has a radio control panel down near the gear shift.

My primary commuting habit is like that of a radio DJ. I find I can’t listen to one radio station for an extended period of time.

There are too many ads and when you listen to one show over weeks and months, it is remarkable how repetitive shows can be in the morning.

Same shows, same games, same competition, same quizzes, same jingles, same tired jokes...just relentless repetition. It’s no wonder radio presenters seem to be in a game of musical chairs at many stations across the country.

I tune in to Today FM every morning without fail for Gift Grub, no matter how bad you expect the day to be, Gift Grub will brighten your day.

After that, the mixing begins. I flick between stations, after practically every song, all the way to Queen Street. If it’s not Mondays or Tuesdays, I don’t want to hear bulletins (sometimes you need a break from news).

On those days, I flick to Beat which deserves huge praise for committing to their bulletins ten minutes before the hour. The circular dial in the middle of the panel - it is one way of flicking between stations on the digital display on the dashboard and then you press it to select a station.

So I’m twisting that relentlessly and it feels very much like having my own personal radio DJ. Last week, I stumbled across Raidió na Gaeltachta and came upon a veritable trad session in the middle of the afternoon.

It opened up a whole new world of possibilities to my radio mix, until the “sad song” came on, as Tommy Tiernan might call it. So I quickly rolled the dial again for something more uplifting.

I did listen to podcasts but I’ve gone off them for the time being. I’ve no doubt I’ll return to them at some stage.

I work remotely on Fridays but I had been going into the office and typically, the drive home on Fridays was reserved for an album of some sort which I’d listen to all the way home.

It would have to be upbeat, particularly if the sun was shining during summer.

I’m relatively new to the commuting habits but they seem to take on a life of their own and I have found myself moving seamlessly from one habit into another - without even realising it sometimes.

I couldn’t tell you when I stopped listening to The 2 Johnnies podcast, nor could I tell you why, but I know it is not nearly as much fun as the mixing I’m doing right now.

I feel like a station in my own right. I guess people find their own things to do on their daily commutes and everyone likely does something different.