I’m back on my feet after being axed from 2fm ... and i owe it all to Louis Walsh
IN A SPIN: Bubbly DJ Nikki reveals how caring star of the X Factor sprang into action when her life fell apart
When Nikki Hayes' world fell apart during an ad break on her 2fm show, a knight in shining armour arrived in an unexpected form.
The bubbly broadcaster was forced to go back on to the air just moments after she was told she was out of a job.
After eight years with the national broadcaster, Nikki was given her marching orders within a matter of seconds.
But music mogul Louis Walsh saw a friend in need and encouraged the DJ to get her life back on track.
Without his help, she admits: "I would have gone under."
It was last August when, she says, the station's boss John McMahon strode into the studio and broke the bad news to her.
"He walked in and said 'we're going to put a new schedule together. I said 'yeah?' and he more or less said, 'well you're not on it, have a great weekend.' And he walked out. It was done in under a minute and a half," she claimed.
What followed were some seriously low duvet days as she fretted about her future as an unemployed radio presenter. That was until an unlikely knight in shining armour stepped in, in the shape of The X Factor's Louis Walsh.
"I had never been out of a job before so I was like 'what do I do now?' I remember lying on the couch at home and the phone kept ringing. It was Louis.
"He was like 'what are you doing at the moment?' I said, 'I'm lying on the couch in my pyjamas' and he said 'get up' and I was like 'no' and he said 'get up now, I have a meeting for you in FM104'. So off I went.
"The next day he rang and said 'how did that go? I might have something else for you'. He was talking to someone in (Spin owners) Communicorp. I was overwhelmed by it all.
"Then he told me to get my gladrags on, I was coming to the O2. I was like 'no Louis, I'm really tired' and he said 'I don't care, you're coming'.
"There were about two weeks that Louis took over my life and I said it to him because without him and Joanne Byrne, I'd have gone under.
"I wouldn't have coped because I didn't know how to. Louis just didn't even give me a chance to think, he just took over.
"People joked that he was my new manager. But he just did it because he said sometimes he comes across people he likes and he'll help them when he can. I'll be indebted to him for the rest of my life for what he did."
But Nikki, from Bray, is nothing if not a survivor. She has been through a litany of personal setbacks in recent years, culminating in the death of her beloved dad Pat from cancer in May 2007.
Outspoken Nikki freely admits she totally fell apart as she struggled to deal with her grief and tried to battle her depression.
"After my dad died, I went off the rails, things happened," she said. "Yes, relationships went down the pan, both personal and otherwise and I think it's taken me a year or two to look back and think 'Okay, that did happen but now I'm in a good place.'
"In a way by going from 2fm, it was closing the door on all that. It feels like it's a brand new, clean slate."
However, she did receive support from some of her colleagues during her tough times in RTE.
Having taking six weeks off work after being viciously attacked in a bar in April 2008, one of the first people to support her was the late Gerry Ryan.
"He was very good to me. When I went through some personal stuff, he was very paternal to me.
"I always remember coming back into work after a month and him putting his arm around me and saying 'it doesn't matter what way anyone looks at you or what anyone says about you, you hold your head up high,'" she explained.
"I didn't see the drugs side because I didn't socialise with him. And when I first heard about it, I thought none of us knew what he was hiding inside. But it hasn't changed my opinion of him at all.
"I thought he was a great broadcaster and he was always lovely to me. I was shocked at how quickly people wanted to tear him apart.
"But what he did in his personal life, he did to himself and yet you can also argue he did to his children that he has left behind.
"But again, you don't know why he did what he did. And I think it's very easy to stand in judgment, when you're not going to get any answers from him."
Now she's looking forward to a new lease of life and has plenty of plans for 2011, including a forthcoming trip to visit her mum in America this month, with the pair planning a holiday to the Virgin Islands.
She has lots of ideas for her new morning show on Spin 103 and although she admits she "hasn't kissed a guy" since last August, she would love to get back on the dating scene.
"I was extremely hurt by my past relationship and it took me a while to get back on my feet. But I would love to start dating again," she added.
But while she reckons RTE did her a favour in the long run, she claims she would never work for them again. Nor does she listen to the station "out of principle."
"It's great being on Spin," she said. It's just stress free, everybody's lovely, they're all young and vibrant. In a way, it's given me a new lease of life. I had been stuck in a rut and now I've got myself out of that and I'm starting to live again so it's cool."
Spin Hits with Nikki Hayes airs from 9.45am -- 12.45pm