Tuesday 26 September 2017

'Not everyone in Today FM loved me and I didn't love everyone' - Mairead Ronan

Mairead Ronan will now focus on her TV career. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Mairead Ronan will now focus on her TV career. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Broadcaster Mairead Ronan, who announced last week that she was leaving Today FM, has admitted she won't miss all of her former radio colleagues.

As a lady who has always had her fingers in other pies, she won't be stuck for fresh projects as she embraces a new lease of life as a free agent.

In an interview with the Herald, Mairead said: "It feels so strange. It's like, 'I don't have a job any more'."

Already mum to son Dara (10), having baby Eliza with husband Louis Ronan seven months ago was something that gave her pause for thought when it came to deciding her next career move.

Far from resting on her laurels, expanding her family has given the producer on Ian Dempsey's breakfast show a new impetus to explore other career avenues.

From presenting TV shows such as Ireland's Fittest Family, as well as RTE's travel show Getaways and running her own hairbrush business, Faro, you get the impression that we'll be seeing much more of Mairead (36) over the coming months.

Quitting Today FM wasn't a decision she made lightly, though.

"I've been agonising over the decision since the start of the year," she said.

"We were away just after Christmas, myself and Louis, and it's always the thing when you go away and you don't have to put on a wash every hour and go to the supermarket every day.

"I finally had this bit of brain space and I was thinking, 'I've never taken that leap from Today FM'. I hadn't even finished college when I started and I loved it for so long. It was like another sibling or something.

"I'm very lucky that I had a job like that for so long, but I think I need to do new things and work in other places.

"So I made the decision, and then I went back and forth and kept changing my mind for about two months.

"Then I went to the Westbury about a month ago and had a meeting with Ian and Mario Rosenstock and told them.

"It was very emotional," she added. "I was crying my eyes out and the boys were not comfortable with that at all.

"Ian has been ridiculously supportive, he's so nice and he said all the right things.

"It was like one of those awful break-ups where he understood why I was doing it, but I was still going to miss him and the team."

A media graduate from Ballyfermot College, Mairead spent 12 years working as a presenter/producer on the Ray D'Arcy Show before jumping ship to Dempsey's early-morning show in 2014, which meant achingly early starts for the mum-of-two.

The Finglas woman also had big changes in her personal life, marrying businessman Louis in Tipperary in June 2015.

She has said that Louis "healed her heart" after going through a painful split from her first husband in 2008.

But one thing about Mairead is that she is a survivor.

She lost her mum, Maureen, to cancer on the night before her 21st birthday.

She has always been a grafter and credits Maureen, who was only 60 when she died, with giving her a strong work ethic and can-do attitude.

"It's going to be hard, but it's a new challenge. I've been working since I was 16. My mum was like, 'You go off now and get a job, your pocket money is being reduced'," she said.

She worked her way steadily up the ranks, juggling co-producing D'Arcy's show with a burgeoning career in TV presenting to become one of RTE's go-to girls for new projects.

She said that while she would miss many of her pals at Today FM and most people were a pleasure to work with, she admitted in her final interview with Dempsey that she didn't like everyone she worked with.

She's too discreet to name names, but said it was just the general nature of an office environment.

"Everyone has their groups. Not everyone in there loved me and I didn't love everyone. That's the way of the working world. The majority of them are absolutely lovely there," she said.

Asked about the current dominance of male presenters on Today FM's schedule, she said it was not a "deliberate thing".

"It's just the way it has happened and I've said this all along - I don't think women should be on just because they're female," said Mairead.

"It should be on their merits. I don't believe it's a gender thing. Today FM is run by women, every single show has had women producers, it's just the men on the mics."

Mairead met all her work pals for a final send-off in Marco Pierre White's restaurant on Dawson Street last week as she said a teary goodbye to her former colleagues and looked ahead to new challenges.

She said she would not rule out joining RTE Radio some day, given that she was still friends with Ray D'Arcy and his team.

But, for now, she's happy setting the agenda in her own life.

"I need to do something new. I've worked hard and I'm lucky that I can jump into this new area. Louis is like, 'Just go for it'," she said.

"Working for yourself makes you push yourself a bit more, and that's a good thing."

Irish Independent

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