- 21 Sep 18
He emerged as a bright new star with RTÉ, but it has been as the main-man in the Today FM breakfast slot that Ian Dempsey has made his most enduring contribution to broadcasting in Ireland
Birthdays come and birthdays go, but some have more significance than others. This was highlighted this morning with the news that the Today FM breakfast anchor Ian Dempsey has been all of 20 years with the station.
It is a remarkable statement about the importance of Dempsey to Today FM, which began, under the Radio Ireland moniker, as the first independent national rival to RTÉ One and RTÉ 2fm.
Dempsey had been a popular 2fm jock for many years and it was during his stylish take-over of the simulcast programme Beat Box that he really blossomed. But he has since made Today FM his home.
Where RTÉ One and Newstalk lean heavily towards current affairs in what is a time of peak radio listening, with the Ian Dempsey Show, Today FM provided and alternative, magazine style show.
"Ian Dempsey’s daily Breakfast Show on Today FM has set the standards for morning radio in Ireland since he arrived at the station,” the Hot Press Yearbook says, assessing the impact of the man on broadcasting. "The show is consistently funny, entertaining and in touch with what’s happening musically.”
That unique mix is a genuine reflection of the personality and tastes of the man behind the mic.
"Cool and confident on air, Dempsey has set standards for other pop DJs and shown the value of intelligent comment, good humour and hard facts," the Hot Press Yearbook says. "His programme’s Gift Grub, masterminded by Mario Rosenstock, brilliantly sends-up political figures and celebrities."
“Ian Dempsey is a brilliant broadcaster,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “He is relaxed and confident on air, but without any of the arrogance or ego that can be an occupational hazard for people who are constantly in the public eye. He is a hugely likeable person, and that comes across on air. He knows how to draw an audience into a story. He has a real sense of fun. And he also has the instinctive ability to enable people he is working with, or guests on the show, to breathe and to be themselves.
“He has done a fantastic job for Today FM, establishing an audience in the morning that stays with the station through the day – and creating a strong sense of the ethos of the station aswarm, friendly, open – and musically knowledgeable. That he has remained at Today FM for 20 years is remarkable. It is clearly one of those fortuitous relationships that really works. Long may it continue."
In 2016, Ian Dempsey received his first tattoo live on air as part of Today FM’s Dare To Care campaign. A lifelong fan of David Bowie, the DJ chose the Blackstar logo from the singer’s final album as his first inking. In 2016, Ian Demspey was inducted into the PPI Radio Awards Hall of Fame.