Thursday 23 November 2017

George Hook to replace Eamon Dunphy after broadcasters’ public spat

Eamon Dunphy. Photo: Collins
Eamon Dunphy. Photo: Collins
George Hook. Photo: Sportsfile reporters

GEORGE Hook is the frontrunner to take over Eamon Dunphy’s Sunday morning show on Newstalk radio.

He is battling fellow broadcaster Ivan Yates for the prime time role, but Hook is understood to be the chosen candidate after his spirited attack on Dunphy for his comments on the station and owner Denis O’Brien.

The plum position, which Dunphy left two weeks ago, will pit the new presenter against Marian Finnucane and today’s Daily Mail says that Newstalk sees the vacancy as a serious chance for the station to boost its ratings.

Earlier this month Hook used Twitter to launch a tirade of insults aimed at his former Newstalk colleague Dunphy.

Dunphy resigned from the radio station last week, and on his last show made critical comments about owner Denis O'Brien and the way Newstalk was run.

Hook, who was in Haiti at the time with O'Brien's Haven charity, posted a series of tweets attacking Dunphy.

The first, "Found a voodoo replica of Dunphy here in Haiti - I have stuck a pin in his most obvious feature" was then followed by "The voodoo doll of Dunphy is frothing at the mouth."

He then tweeted "Dunphy is like Greece - full of crap but people keep giving him huge money" before concluding "Hook controversial by conviction; Dunphy by opportunism".

It's not the first time Hook has used Twitter to have a go at his enemies.

Last month, he used the social media to trade insults with Irish rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll during the Rugby World Cup.

Before he left, Dunphy described Newstalk as a "slum" but insisted he did not quit the radio station because of a 50pc pay cut.

He told the Irish Independent he stood over his comments -- made on his final show - that the radio station's owner, Denis O'Brien, "hates journalism".

The outspoken media personality took the opportunity to condemn the businessman during his last moments on air following his decision to resign.

He insisted he wanted to go because of the way staff were treated and not because he was asked to take a pay cut of €50,000 a year from the €100,000 he was being paid to front 40 shows.

"The commercial sector was supposed to be a viable alternative to RTE, but Newstalk's become a slum," the 66-year-old said.

"The people who are living in the slum will tell you that and there's been a huge departure rate by presenters."

He claimed staff were treated "disgracefully".

The author, soccer pundit and former footballer said the regulator "should be paying attention to what's going on as certain standards should be set".

Newstalk vigorously denied the claims made and presenter Fionn Davenport said on Twitter: "So Dunphy left 'as a gesture of solidarity with the staff'. For a guy who didn't know anybody's name or was rarely in, that's some gesture."

Davenport, who presents 'Davenport After Dark' and was away on honeymoon at the time, was referring to comments made by Mr Dunphy that he was acting in solidarity with fellow broadcasters and Irish Independent journalist Sam Smyth, who was recently sacked from Today FM, the sister station to Newstalk.

'Breakfast Show' presenter Chris Donoghue also criticised Mr Dunphy's comments on air saying they had been offensive to staff.

Speaking to the Irish Independent he said: "I think Eamon quite possibly had a legitimate argument with management, we all have those.

"I hope he didn't realise the collateral damage he had caused to staff because they really took it to heart, particularly the use of the word 'slum'.

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