Monday 18 November 2019

'In the 80s people had nothing but the radio and Tony got them through' - Dave Fanning pays tribute to former colleague Tony Fenton

From April 13 onwards, Dave Fanning will host a four-part special on BBC Radio 6 taking in the most seminal Irish acts
From April 13 onwards, Dave Fanning will host a four-part special on BBC Radio 6 taking in the most seminal Irish acts
Tony Fenton at work at Today FM
Tony Fenton at work in Today FM
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.
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
Tony Fenton, Rachel English, and Joe Duffy at the announcement of the latest JNLR/MRBI figures at RTE
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.

Dave Fanning

RTE radio presenter Dave Fanning remembers his long-time colleague Tony Fenton from their domination of Irish radio in the 1980s to the present.

There are 26 stations serving Dublin now including Radio na Life and Lyric.  Back in the 80s there was only 3 or 4 pirates and two RTE stations and basically no internet, no gadgets, people couldn’t do a lot of the things they can do now.

Basically all you could do was listen to 2FM and all we had to do was be half decent.  We were half decent, or maybe we were good, but we’d a huge audience back in the 1980s because of the fact you had the parents in one room watching the telly and the kids in the other doing their homework and listening to the radio and the firs tthing they’d listen to was Tony from 7-8pm on the Hotline.  And then Ryan and Cagney and that after. 

But the Hotline was on for an hour and you never had any gaps or silence in it.  Every time Tony spoke he was - boom - pumping music all the time and that’s what Tony was, he lived his whole life that way.

RTE star Ray D'Arcy pays moving on air tribute to the late Tony Fenton  

One of the weird things I remember was there was always news in Irish at 4.20pm on 2FM which was a bit of an anomaly and Tony would be going, ‘Yeah, you busted my chops!’ and you were like, ‘What the f*** is that about?’.  It was fantastic.

This sounds stupid but Tony loved stories, even stories told against himself.  For instance, Tony was at the Childline concert in the O2 and you know he’d be doing the 2FM roadcaster for an hour and there’d be 15 bands playing one or two numbers – the crap bands in other words – and they were brought in to Tony.

Today FM presenter Tony Fenton has died following cancer battle 

I’ll never forget, and this is a true story, at the time Louis Walsh was doing Boyzone and had a few other things on the go and one of them was the Carter Twins and they came in and Tony said, ‘Ok guys, tell us how you got together?’ and they were like, ‘Well Tony, we’re twins’.  He just didn’t give a f***, he’d keep moving. That’s Tony for you.

Where I was supposed to be slower and all cool, Tony was busting out the music and really doing it.  Tony was old school.  Tony is like the old Caroline DJs I would have listened to, or Luxembourg, where they were really meant to sell the music and love it. 

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

Tony is a Larry Gogan or a Vincent Hanley – like himself plus a free bit in the box.  With Tony you buy two get another one free.  He gave so much more 24 hours a day. He just sold it. He was always up.  He was old school, an old style DJ that either aren’t in demand or nobody supplies them anymore and that’s a shame really. 

He was old-fashioned and that was what I loved about him.  He was the first man with a gadget, the best new gadgets, the first Blackberry, the first man to talk in a car not holding a phone.  I didn’t know what he was doing – what was this bizarre thing with a voice coming at you without holding the phone? ‘Yeah Dave, it’s a hands free’. 

Back in the 80s we had no internet, no distractions, not even much in the way of the GameBoy situation.  Basically people had nothing but the radio and Tony got them through.  Parents in watching TV, Tony was the man to get you thorugh the homework. 

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

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