Sunday 20 August 2017

DJ shocked by 'unchanged' RTE since quitting 19 years ago

Tuned in: Ian Dempsey insists he is glad he left RTE Photo: Damien Eagers
Tuned in: Ian Dempsey insists he is glad he left RTE Photo: Damien Eagers
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Almost 20 years after he stunned the nation by leaving RTE, DJ Ian Dempsey said it is scary to see the same people still doing the same job at the national broadcaster.

The Today FM presenter said he has been airbrushed out of RTE's history, but insisted there was no bad blood between him and Montrose.

He added that he enjoyed his time there but is glad he made the move away. "It was (a comfortable place for me). I have been back there on many occasions and, when you go back, the scary thing is you sometimes see the people that you saw before out there and they have got older but they seem to be doing the same things, walking down the same tracks. I'm glad that I did (leave) and it is working out very well."

Dempsey spent 18 years at RTE and became the face of its children's programming by fronting Dempsey's Den with Zig and Zag. However, he announced his departure from the station in 1998 and in doing so became one of the first star presenters to look to grow their career away from RTE.

Pat Kenny and Lucy Kennedy are among the other star talents to follow suit.

"One or two people were saying that I made a mistake and they kind of wrote me out of history, but that's business when you are in a high-profile company. I did leave The Den as well and I remember when I did that to concentrate on other things that RTE Television were saying 'you can't be doing that'. If I was leaving an insurance company you get a bit hurt but it doesn't become a big story."

Since leaving RTE he has gone on to establish himself as the voice of breakfast radio, a job he said he still loves despite the early morning starts.

"I press *55*0500# on my phone every night and that alarm service wakes me up at 5 o'clock every morning. I've spent a fortune on it. I am used to it now. I have often said to myself if I start feeling like (I don't want to do it any more) that it is time to move on or it is time to change what I am doing or change the time slot. I like the idea of people waking up in the morning and their brain is minty. All the stuff has come out and you can start inputting again."

However, he told the Paul Williams Podcast his life has changed, most notably when he was told he has diabetes. The condition means he makes a greater effort to look after himself now. "They said I was close to going into some sort of a coma. I had too much sugar and they said it was unbelievable.

"When I was in hospital, my wife came over to see me and I remember saying sorry to her and sorry that I wasn't able to be there because I had to stay in hospital. I got a bit emotional and I don't want to feel like that again."

The Paul Williams podcast lifts a lid on the stories and lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and of famous Irish people behind closed doors.

To hear the full interview, subscribe to the Paul Williams podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud

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