Sunday 17 December 2017

Tony's last interview: 'I came home after the last exam and told my mother that I wanted to work in radio'

In January, Tony Fenton sat down with Herald reporter Elaine McCahill. This is his final interview ...

Tony Fenton
Tony Fenton

Tony Fenton was an avid music fan and it is fitting that his last public appearance involved him launching the Killarney Arts and Music Festival this January.

Tony said he was looking forward to heading down to the festival and spoke of how he wanted to return to work at Today FM within weeks...

'I'm looking forward to getting back on radio and that will be in four weeks time," he told the Herald.

"I'm chomping at the bit, I really cannot wait.

"It'll be just me again, back on as normal. Louise [Duffy] will be going to 7pm in the evening," he added. He even revealed that he was hoping to change up the format of his show for when he returned.

"My producer is away on maternity leave, she'll be back in five or six weeks time, around the middle of March so we'll be back at Today FM around the same time," he said.

"I have been asking her about making changes on our show too," he said.

"You can't do too much different though because breakfast is about traffic, news, weather and a bit of comedy.

"Then at 9am, it's all papers and talk, and then lunchtime is with the boys [Dermot and Dave] who are great. So by the time it gets to the afternoon people want to hear good music, bands and things like that - nothing too taxing," he continued.

"I think the trick as well is to know your audience. They just want to hear music in the afternoon and they want to hear strong live bands and competitions."


The 53-year-old said he was looking forward to the summer and heading to the Killarney Festival.

"I'll be down there for the whole weekend. To see Burt Bacharach with an orchestra will be really special," he said.

"Killarney pull out all the stops to make it happen and they've always embraced music and tourism so I think it's going to be great."

Tony also spoke of how he thought Anton Savage was a great fit for the mid-morning slot on Today FM.

"Everyone's looking forward to Anton starting in a few weeks," he said at the time. "When Ray announced he was leaving, I just thought that it would be a good opportunity for us," he said.

"I thought: 'Let's put somebody great in there', and Anton is certainly the man.

"He knows that audience and filled in for Ray quite a bit, so I think he'll be great at 9am. Anton is warm, the audience know him and they'll embrace him."

Last September, Tony was inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame.

"The phone call telling me the good news really made my day - because that day I was feeling a bit low," he revealed.

Speaking about his long and varied career, he said he always knew he wanted to be on radio.


"I came home after sitting the last exam on the inter cert and I put my school bag under the stairs and I told my mother: 'That's it, I'm not going back'.

"She asked if I knew what I was going to do and I told her that I wanted to work in radio."

Tony also revealed that his first presenting job on a pirate radio station 36 years ago didn't exactly go as planned.

"I went in for a 'DJ for a Day' competition on ARD. I was so nervous, I had 15 minutes to play three songs and do some introductions," he said. "It was all vinyl then, of course, and Mike Moloney was the guy in charge.

"I took out my first record and put it on the turn table and my hand was shaking so much that I broke the needle, so Mike said: 'Don't worry I have a spare'.

"So he put the spare on but I broke that as well.

"He just had one turn table so he said: 'You do the talking and I'll queue up the records'. Years later for my 40th birthday, he got the same needle covered in gold.

"It was a lovely lovely gift," he added. He said the secret to his long career was his love for broadcasting.

"I love my job and I love what I do which I believe is one of the most important things in life.

"I'm always thinking about the job and the music," he said.

At the time, Tony was due to undergo further chemoptherapy sessions at the end of January.

He said he hoped to be back on air by the end of February and was taking meetings with producers in Today FM.

Sadly, it wasn't to be.


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