Radio Goddess: Deirdre O'Donoghue

Home-brew dub cassette art, 1990.

July 16 is the late Deirdre's O'Donoghue's birthday. Deirdre hosted "SNAP" (an acronym for "Saturday Night Avante Pop") aired three nights a week on KCRW out of Santa Monica College, in Santa Monica, CA. This is my unabashed fanboy eulogy.

Out of my own selfish memories of her, I revere Deirdre O'Donoghue's amazing forays and discoveries, I re-educated myself. No longer were the blighted wastelands of KROQ and Phil Collins to determine my landmarks.

Yes, I date myself. But holy fuck-fire of art! Did not Deirdre bring amazing music to the ears of those who'd learned that she was passionate and engaged about what she played? And yes, I wasn't ready, but who is? Because if you're pushing, its always out past the comfort zone?

Here's a short list of what she played:

  • The Finn Brothers with their glorious a-capella rendering of "Throw Your Arms Around You"
  • Mary Margaret O'Hara
  • Vinny Rollie's Diazapam 500mg
  • Texas: Prayer for You
  • Bel Canto: Continuum, and The Glass Maker
  • MC 900 Ft Jesus
  • Amr Diab, from "Yalla!"
  • Kipper Jones: Shockwave
  • Cocteau Twins: Wolf In The Breast
  • Ultra Vivid Scene
  • and finally, Kimm Rogers' barn-burning anthem "A Lot On My Mind"
Of course the list is not complete. I got distracted. Before I stopped, I'd made 39 90min tapes of music I edited from her playlists. A narrow slice.

What a complete genius. And then with her show "Breakfast With The Beatles", she'd plow against the furrows of the Beatles catalog on on a succession of other commercial LA FM outlets, yielding new insights.

And that enraged KCRW's General Manager Ruth Hirschmann, later Seymour. Because Deirdre was fearless.

I read that her lupus confined her to recording out of her home. I read that Auntie Ruth had a problem with that. It fit into the larger pattern of Ruth and KCRW's talent—"The Cool & The Crazy", Renee Engel, "African Beat"—all locked horns with Ruth, and Ruth won. She wanted to build an NPR colossus, and she did. Along the way it became a bland, neutered giant. Tom Schnabel gave way to the blandness of Chris Douritas, and thence To Nic Harcourt. All, in my estimation, were pale dwarves to what went before.

God rest her immaculate heart and soul.

Read more about Deirdre from Bill Wilner, here.


BH said…
Great article. Ruth Seymour seemed / seems to have a need to control everything in her sphere, past the point of "a unique view" and onward to "control freakery".
Rivka Jr. said…
I have been listening to Crowded House tracks on my phone this afternoon while packing for a move to (Grid help me) AZ. I was moved to post a tribute to Deirdre on my Facebook page. I miss that woman. Thank you for your eulogy.

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