A reader on Facebook got in touch today to say he say the Off The Ball lads at Hogan's deep in conversation yesterday evening and should have guessed what was up. A day many of us have feared nearly as much as our death has come to pass: Off The Ball as we knew it is no more. But what will fill its void and what happen to the people who produced the radio show we all loved? No one really knows. Here are the three biggest questions that we could see.
1. Where next?
McDevitt, Early, Murphy, Hick, and Horgan didn't spend the guts of the last decade building up one of the most popular radio shows in Ireland just to lay it to bed overnight. So where will the show go? Much of Twitter says RTE, but the odds of RTE shafting Damien O'Meara's team after rejigging their evening schedule (and/or taking on five fulltime staff) seems highly unlikely to me. How would the unwieldy show even work on RTE? Just about every other station in Dublin is owned by Communicorp. LMFM? Galway Bay? There is a chance that the lads could return to Newstalk (Dunphy did it.) What seems imminently more plausible is that Off The Ball will go into the online space with some sort of prerecorded show uploaded every day and witty sports content. While assuring their independence, this move would isolate them utterly from the casual radio listener.
2. What happens to brand Off The Ball?
A show called Off The Ball sans Early, McDevitt, et al will go on air tonight. So it seems that Newstalk owns the title of the show Off The Ball. Do they also own their facebook followers and their Twitter followers? We were told once that Off The Ball has the biggest facebook following of any Irish media entity. Also who owns the stings, the Ken Early 'basketball style roar', the 'Murph's Country Pages' promo? Do they just disappear into a sinkhole at Marconi House?
3. What does Newtalk do next?
No idea really Ger Gilroy, who founded OTB, will bring his weekend team to the airwaves tonight. Whatever happens, you can kiss the idea of somebody talking about football for 25 minutes after 9pm goodbye (for the short term anyway). Newstalk is sport. It should be a sports radio station, really.