Radio shows and racing cars - Anton Savage's life in the fast lane
Anton Savage is delighted with his new role as presenter of a flagship morning show for TodayFM. And the amateur racing driver tells Alan O'Keeffe his pace is going down a gear
Anton Savage is relishing his new job filling the boots of Ray D'Arcy on Today FM.
His switch from a once-a-week broadcast to hosting a three-hour morning show five days a week appears to be working out very well.
It's hardly surprising. Savage is not lacking in courage, as someone who also enjoys driving racing cars up to 150 miles an hour.
If some people are born to broadcast, maybe this 37-year-old Dubliner is one of them.
Both his parents made a living teaching politicians and business people how to express themselves effectively in public and on radio and television.
"Oddly, the things I learned growing up were more to do with broadcasting," he told the Herald.
His father Tom Savage, a former priest and past chairman of the RTE Authority, and his mother Terry Prone, were immersed in the media as he was growing up.
In person their son comes across as a down to earth, genial man with the gift of the gab.
"One of the things that might be forgotten is that my dad was the first editor of Morning Ireland. When they did the 25 years celebration of the programme, former presenter David Hanly said Morning Ireland would not have survived without him," Anton said.
"Likewise, my mother would have spent many years working as a scriptwriter on The Gay Byrne Hour. So there was a long history of radio. Some of that, hopefully, rubbed off, fingers crossed," he said.
Qualities he attributes to his parents include his dad's "ethics, his integrity, and his work ethic". "He set the bar very high for me," Anton said. "And likewise, I've learned from my mother."
Married and living on Dublin's northside, Anton prefers to keep family life out of the media spotlight, confining the chat to his furry four-legged family pet.
"I have the world's biggest golden retriever. Jack is very, very big and very energetic. He's the only form of exercise I get.
"He goes bananas when I get home and carries things to me when I arrive. Like the TV remote. Or a box of Special K," he said.
Out of the house one of the broadcaster's ways of unwinding is to drive in a racing car.
"I have raced Formula Sheane cars which are single-seat racing cars built and designed by David Sheane in Blainroe in County Wicklow.
"We race them at Mondello Park and at Kirkistown circuit in Northern Ireland. Up to 140 or 150 miles an hour heading into a corner. I've won my share of races in the past," he said.
Among the broadcasters he admires most are Matt Cooper, Ryan Tubridy and Joe Duffy.
His hero is the legendary US journalist Ed Murrow, who did ground-breaking broadcasts as a war correspondent during the Second World War and who challenged the anti-communist witchhunts of US Senator Joe McCarthy.
The new role for Savage - which he took up last week ahead of Ray's new RTE show (which kicks off today) - has resulted in his workload actually being lightened.
Excluding his new radio work and writing a column for the Herald, he is managing director of the Communications Clinic, a PR, personal and corporate training company. He has decided he will be "stepping back significantly" from his executive job in the family firm.
"So doing the new show is slightly less work overall because I was doing the day job and a Sunday radio show and, for a large part of last year, I was presenting Ireland AM on TV3, which meant 3.30am starts and finishes at 7pm. I have weekends back for the first time in five years," he said.
The 3.30am starts meant he ended up "living like a toddler" and had to go to bed at 8pm.
"That was tough during the summer, smelling barbecue wafting up to the open window and hearing people sitting out in their back gardens and you're in bed trying to sleep," he said.
"So it's great I'm doing purely radio now. The show has a superb team. Getting Kevin Spacey the first day was down to team member Pamela Blake who landed him for us," he said.
"Oddly, you'd think the Hollywood names are the best bit but it's people's personal stories I'm most interested in."
His approach to getting people to talk on air is to be genuinely interested.
"Be curious and let them know they are not going to be hoodwinked," Anton said.
Finally, as his varied career blossoms, the presenter applies the advice of a fellow motorsport racer to his working life.
"He told me the way to win a championship is to treat each race individually and let the points add up, making sure to do as good as you can," he said.