At Home With: Tony Fenton
There’s a bit of a collector in the former 2FM DJ – who is about to take on a significant new challenge with Today FM. Photography Cathal Dawson
Phil Udell, 26 Aug 2004
Tony Fenton’s Dublin home is a unique collision of the old and the new. Although he’s the proud owner of some state of the art equipment, his home is also dotted with various collectables of an older vintage.
“It’s not something that I started out doing”, he says, “but I came across bits and pieces like most people do when they travel around. I just like the things that I come across. I was at an auction there recently and I picked up some great little Laurel and Hardy statuettes. You find a place for them around the house and think they’d be just perfect. There’s no real theme to it. I’ve got a really cool old gramophone that fits really well.”
A big favourite of Tony’s is period valve radios, something that he picks up whenever and wherever he can.
“They all have to be working though,” he explains, “I just love the sound of them. They’re much warmer than the modern ones. I’ve a nice collection.”
Has radio always been his passion?
“Very much so, from an early age. I got bitten by the bug listening to Radio Luxembourg late at night, under the covers, so I wouldn’t wake my parents. Then it was the BBC and RTE 1, it was just something that I always wanted to do and I’ve been lucky enough to do it for such a long time”.
Does his record collection reflect his job?
“It does. I’ve got tons of CDs. Most of my record collection is over at my mother’s house just because there isn’t the room here. I must have at least 15,000 seven inch singles, 10,000 albums but nowhere to put them. Most of the CDs are here”. What was the first record he bought? “I think it was ‘Crocodile Rock’ by Elton John. It wouldn’t still be my absolute favourite to be honest, but it was different. Most people’s first records would probably be crap anyway. My favourite of all time would probably be ‘I Say A Little Prayer’.”
Does he still buy records?
“I do. I get a lot free, which is one of the perks of the job – but I do buy records. The last one I bought was a CD copy of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?. It must be the third time I’ve bought that record; it’s my favourite album of all time”.
How about the new wave of Irish bands, does Tony try to keep up to date with them? “Absolutely, I listen to a lot of stuff. It’s part of the gig. I like a lot of the new bands at the moment. Snow Patrol are the one that I’ve been very keen on for the last six months.”
With the huge TV that dominates the front room in mind, I wonder if he would consider himself a film buff?
“I’m just starting to get a decent collection of DVDs going. I bought myself a plasma screen set for my birthday because I think it’s worth treating yourself every year. Your loved ones are going to buy you a great gift but they don’t always get what you really want. A couple of years ago I bought myself a saxophone, and now the TV, because I love the movies but I also love the soccer. You have to have the Premiership and you have to have the big screen with the surround sound.”
So if push came to shove, what would be Tony’s most prized possession? “There’s a couple of things that I like. One is an autographed photo of Muhammad Ali. That would be one of my prized possessions. That or the autographed Chelsea football. If the house went on fire, they’re the two things I’d grab running out of the door.”
Tony Fenton begins broadcasting at lunchtimes on Today FM from the end of August