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Hi. I'm Tony Fenton
Tony Fenton is a larger than life figure. One of Ireland’s most experienced and widely liked DJs, he currently occupies the early afternoon slot on Today FM, where he attracts an impressive audience. Behind the mic, he is full of braggadocio – but off-air he is a different character entirely. So what really makes the Northside Dubliner tick?
Olaf Tyaransen, 29 Jun 2011
Tony Fenton has a larger than life, constantly cheerful and upbeat on-air persona. But off-air the 50-year-old Dublin DJ comes across as a modest character. He arrived exactly at the appointed minute for our interview, shook my hand warmly, ordered a coffee, and – knowing I’d travelled from Galway – immediately started to chat about his beloved Connemara.
Massively popular with radio listeners, Tony’s pretty popular within the industry, too.
“You could count the number of Irish radio DJs who could actually seriously break a new band on one hand,” one record company executive told me. “And Tony Fenton is definitely one of them. The power that guy has is amazing.”
That power doesn’t appear to have gone to his head. Indeed, he still seems wildly enthusiastic about his job.
“I’ve got John Lydon coming into studio today,” he told me, delightedly. “PiL are playing in Tripod tomorrow night, so he’s in town. I’ve been trying to get him for quite a while and a good friend of mine (John Reynolds) just rang this morning and said, ‘I’ve got him for you!’ When you get that kind of news you’re busy thinking, ‘What am I going to ask that guy?’ You know, The Sex Pistols! One of the greatest bands ever, one of the last angry bands! What’ll I ask him? Is he still angry? And what is he angry about these days? He’s 53.”
Which makes him just a few years older than Tony, who turned 50 earlier this year...
OLAF TYARANSEN: What’s your earliest memory?
TONY FENTON: Oh wow! A rocking horse I got as a Christmas present. Do you remember the TV show Champion The Wonder Horse? I was glued to it as a kid, seemingly. My mother and father – well, Santa Claus – got it for me. So up on Champion with six guns blazing and the little cowboy hat on. I was probably about three or four. That’s my earliest memory. It all started from there (laughs).
Did you have a big family?
Yeah, mum and dad, four boys and one girl. I was second eldest. Summer holidays in Wexford, like most families in Ireland – the sunny South East. Glorious times: it took us forever to get there. You could do it in an hour-and-a-half now, but it used to take us the whole day. The excitement of packing up to go on holidays for two weeks was glorious. So, yeah, happy families.