Sunday 20 October 2019

Blog: 'For more than one generation of music-mad kids, Tony Fenton was one of the key voices'

DJ Tony Fenton is photographed presenting Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyonce Knowles, members of 'Destiny's Child' with an award to celebrate their album reaching double platinum sales in Ireland.
DJ Tony Fenton is photographed presenting Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyonce Knowles, members of 'Destiny's Child' with an award to celebrate their album reaching double platinum sales in Ireland.
Tony Fenton
Tony Fenton at work in Today FM
Tony Fenton is inducted into the PPI Radio Awards Hall of Fame
Tony Fenton. Photo: Ronan Lang/Feature File
Deirdre Reynolds has lunch with Tony Fenton
Samantha Mumba got a kiss from her manager Louis Walsh and MC Tony Fenton at the first heat of the Digifone Headstart competition in which five bands competed.
Derry Clarke and Tony Fenton of Today FM pictured at the launch of The Killarney Festival of Music and Food
Chosen by a group of their peers in the Irish radio industry, the inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame ranged from national to local radio broadcasters, all of whom are highly respected for their skill, passion for their jobs and their love for radio. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductees were pictured here, from left, Aine Lawlor, RTE Radio , Walter Love, BBC Radio Ulster, Paul Claffey, Mid West Radio, and Tony Fenton Today FM.
Tony Fenton, Rachel English, and Joe Duffy at the announcement of the latest JNLR/MRBI figures at RTE
Pictured at the official launch of the official Kellogg's/Star Wars "Power of Myth" Experience held in the RDS, Dublin (from left) : Dave Fanning, RTE, Deirdre Magee, RTE and Tony Fenton, RTE
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The death of Tony Fenton, at the horribly young age of 53, is genuinely shocking. Not just because he was known to all his peers as one of nature’s true gentlemen (and trust me, when you work in media, those are rare enough).

But Tony was one of those broadcasters who, in a sense, outgrew the mundane fact of their job and become part of the fabric of Irish life. That voice, for starters – once described as a “Rolls Royce of a voice” – was instantly recognisable, always delivered with his customary enthusiasm, good cheer and sense of fun.

I still remember, more than two decades on, his trademark cry of “You’re the winner!” on 2FM’s evening show The Hotline. After a stint with the pirates, Tony had presented that programme for 18 years before moving on to pastures new at Today FM, where he co-hosted the afternoon show with Louise Duffy.

As radio reviewer for the Irish Independent, I probably didn’t cover Tony’s show once. That was no reflection on him: pop music radio isn’t really “reviewable” in that way.

But he was a constant, welcome presence in mine, and the nation’s, audio landscape. Indeed, Tony had probably reached that exalted state – also shared by old colleagues such as Larry Gogan, Dave Fanning and the late Gerry Ryan – of “national treasure”.

His courage and resilience, during five years of battling cancer, won Tony many new admirers. He was open and honest in interviews about his disease, and man enough to admit when it got him down.

When he was inducted into the PPI Radio Awards Hall of Fame last year, he said that hearing the news “really made my day – because that day I was feeling a bit low”.

Unsurprisingly, the tributes to Tony have been pouring in to social media all day. Fellow DJ Jim-Jim Nugent said, “Very sad news…a real radio legend.” 2FM broadcaster Rick O'Shea wrote, “When I came to RTE Tony Fenton was welcoming, encouraging and such a nice guy to me. My sincerest condolences to his family, loved ones.” The list goes on and on.

Pop stars Kodaline perhaps summed it up best when they called Tony “a true legend and the voice of our childhood”.

For more than one generation of music-mad kids, his was one of the key voices. And what a voice.

'We'll miss you dearly dude' - Tony Fenton's Today FM colleagues pay tribute to the legendary presenter 

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