Under Ether is a music-video based series broadcast on RTE 2 which delves in alternative and indie electronic rock, like its predecessor No Disco (1993 – 2003). The programme was launched in 2009 and is presented by Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally, this being essentially the only programme along with Other Voices that targets a younger music listening audience. Saying that, there is plenty of anarchic comedy programmes and sports programmes that would cater for a similar age group, but what gets me is the fact that no coverage is given to important music events such as Oxegen and Electric Picnic and this is where Ether comes under the magnifying glass.
Its pretty obvious that Michelle and Elton are pro-Electric Picnic fans as their playlist for the series continually feature bands that play the festival, whilst only a token gesture would be given to bands who would frequent the much bigger and more commercial Oxegen. What I do not understand is why RTE don’t lengthen the production of the series to take in the festival season. Instead of the series running from October to December, it should be run from April to December, not only will this incorporate Oxegen and EP, but smaller festivals such as LIfe, Castle Palooza, Knocknastan and Slane amongst others.
Of course, with the current recession in progress there is not much chance of the broadcaster revamping its music policy, but I was disappointed when I came over to Ireland in May this year to discover that RTE was broadcasting reruns of Dave Fanning’s Eleventh Hour from the last year. Since when is this supposed to be current music news?
Compare the coverage given by the BBC and Channel 4 to music festivals in the UK and even at that, Channel 4 gave more coverage to Oxegen than RTE television, bar the five minute news report preceding the festival. What happened to the daring RTE attempts such as the Homelands festival at Mosely from 1999 and the Electric Picnic broadcast in 2006 with Tom Dunne and Jenny Huston. With radio its an entirely different thing and the coverage given by 2FM is second to none especially on the RTE player in which you can relive the audio highlights of some of the best moments.
Anyway I mustn’t gripe too much as I suppose we are lucky enough to have such programmes as Under Ether and Other Voices, and to have had No Disco, Beatbox, Homelands, Electric Picnic 06. One particular episode of Under Ether reminded me of the good old days of MTV, when the channel used to broadcast the Chill Out Zone. On this particular night I saw St Vincent, Aphex Twin, New Order, Sonic Youth and Beck. Bands that you rarely see now on RTE, speaking of Beck, I remember Network 2 showing a great Beck concert from 2002.
Whether this deficiency will be addressed for summer broadcasting, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for this, but as the current programmes go, long may they continue and hopefully more frequent too.
Under Ether is broadcast on RTE 2 Thursday night at 11.30 pm and is repeated on Fridays 1.05 am.