25 Years of The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM.
For the past quarter-century, Irish airwaves have been graced by the familiar and comforting voice of Ian Dempsey, the beloved host of ‘The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show’ on Today FM. Next month will mark 25 years of the show and Learning Waves caught up with Ian to mark this special occasion on the new episode of RadioTalks.
Reflecting on his childhood years, he spoke about his early attraction to working in radio, “I always had this dream. I always had a fascination with the guy in the radio when I was a kid. Ed Stewart used to be on the BBC with Junior Choice on a Saturday Morning, and I was fascinated. I wanted to be part of the whole thing. I dreamed about it and, fortunately, it came true.”
Ian began working in pirate radio stations whilst auditioning for RTE’s new radio station. “I suppose it was because of the timing. In Ireland, at the time, there were a lot of pirate radio stations. There was a hunger there for radio to happen. I was born at the right time.”
After his 3rd audition, Ian got the gig. He spoke about the various dayparts he worked on before finding the one that worked, “I got a weekend breakfast show on a Saturday and Sunday morning from half six and then I moved on fairly quickly. I moved on to Poporama doing the kids show with Ruth Buchanan, which was great fun. From that, maybe somebody noticed something in me and put me on the mid-morning show. That was a bit of a disaster. I think everyone needs a few disasters here and there. It makes you look at yourself and say ‘What went wrong there? What exactly did I do that they didn’t like?’ I learned a few lessons from that. I ended up doing nighttime shows.”
It wasn’t long before Ian found himself presenting the breakfast show, “Soon after that, I finally got given Breakfast, which was a real dream for me. My mother always told me that I was one of the hardest people to get out of bed in the morning. It’s amazing that I’ve now been doing it for so long. I wake up about 2 or 3 minutes before my alarm. It’s amazing what your brain can do. I still pounce out of bed. I sometimes feel like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.”
In 1998, Ian made the move to commercial radio. He took on a new challenge, presenting The Ian Dempsey Breakfast show on Today FM, “I’ve been there now for 25 years, longer than I was in RTE. People still come up to me and say, ‘Oh, how are you getting on in that new place?’. I am fairly established in Today FM. It’s the people that you work with, I get on very well with them. We do try to target a particular listenership and do the show for them. It’s great to have a team like that to work with.”
Ian offered advice for people hoping to work in the radio industry, the new generation of radio presenters: “You should find your own voice. Don’t try and find somebody else’s voice because you’re going to get caught out with that. Work out what you want to do, who you want to be and go for it.” Ian shared some wise words from his father, “I remember my dad telling me once. He said he heard an interview, and they had their questions all written out. They weren’t listening to the answers that were being given because the next question they asked was something that had been answered in the previous question. So, if you want to work in radio, become a good listener. Listen to your listeners.”
In celebrating 25 years of ‘The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show’, we celebrate not just a radio program, but a true Irish broadcasting legend. Ian Dempsey’s ability to bring joy, companionship, and a sense of togetherness to his listeners is a remarkable feat that deserves our applause and admiration. As we continue to tune in to his infectious laughter and engaging stories, we are reminded of the lasting impact that great radio and a talented host can have on our lives. Cheers to Ian and his unforgettable journey in the world of Irish radio.
Listen to the full episode of RadioTalks here.