Dempsey giddy as D’Arcy loses ‘buzz’ of his show in RTE switch

Ian Dempsey
Ian Dempsey
The old days: Ian and Ray D'Arcy back in the day
The old days: Ian and Ray D'Arcy back in the day

WHEN Ian Dempsey was told that Ray D’Arcy was leaving Today FM, he says he was shocked that the station’s most popular presenter was going.

But more than six months on, the breakfast show presenter says the station has recovered from the loss and he believes that D’Arcy has failed to re-create the “buzz” of his show on RTE.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Dempsey admits that D’Arcy’s defection to RTE was a shock.

“They say that everybody can be replaced, and it’s true. Anton Savage is now doing a great job,” Ian reflects.

“To be honest, I got a little bit giddy about it when Ray announced he was going. It was a bit of a shocker, but it was also an opportunity to shake things up and to change the station slightly. I think it has worked out fine.”

And how does he feel Ray D’Arcy is performing on RTE radio?

“I’ve listened to him and there’s not as much of a buzz as there used to be when he was on Today FM,” he says frankly.

“Maybe that will happen in time, but it’s almost like his soul is still in Marconi House [Today FM’s HQ]. I think the time slot is going to prove more difficult than the one he was in at Today FM. He had created his own little Ray D’Arcy landscape in the mornings.”

Although Dempsey and D’Arcy are friends, Ian says they don’t socialise together.

“I would be the complete opposite to Ray,” Ian points out.

“Ray lives very, very cleanly, monastically almost, whereas I enjoy a good night out and I’m probably not as healthy as I should be. But sometimes opposites attract, and we always got on with each other.”

Breakfast show presenter Dempsey has lifted the spirits of the nation during the recession years.

His bubbly personality has been a tonic for people and Ian attracts 189,000 listeners with his early morning diet of music, genial banter and comedy.

But behind his chirpy tones, dad-of-three Dempsey says he’s been struggling with his own financial woes.

At the height of the boom, Ian and his wife Ger purchased their dream family villa in Portugal.

It was a decision that would make life challenging for the ageless radio star amid the worst recession in living memory.

“We did it at the mad time of 2005/6, so we bought it at the top of the market and now it’s at the bottom,” Ian says candidly.

 “I get well paid for doing a job that I love, but it’s all relative to what you’ve spent your money on.

“We would have been OK financially had we not bought the villa. We’ve had serious problems sorting it out with the bank, but there are loads of people in the same boat.

“I’m working hard and I’ll pay off what I can. I decided I’m not going to worry too much about it and try to earn as much as I can.”

Dempsey, who also works with Mario Rosenstock on Gift Grub, is a glass half-full type of guy.

“It’s my nature, but also when I was growing up my parents had a book in our toilet called The Power of Positive Thinking,” he recalls. “I never read it, but the title obviously rubbed off on me.”

He gets up at five in the morning on weekdays, but does it with a spring in his step.

“I do actually leap out of bed because I love what I’m doing,” Ian says with enthusiasm.

Dempsey, who looks a decade younger than his 54 years, reveals he has just signed a new three-year contract to continue hosting the country’s biggest breakfast show on Today FM.

“There’s a good buzz in Today FM, it’s a good place to be,” he says. “The job is one of those things that energises you every day and every day is different. And I love the fact that we’re doing something that people are connecting with.”

Dempsey was shocked by the death of his pal Tony Fenton, who lost his battle with cancer last month.

“We were friends from the late Seventies, as Tony lived closed to where I lived. We used to do discos together and we were in pirate radio stations, and he was such a great guy.

“Tony would hate us being morbid as he was all about fun. He used to say, ‘you’ll be a long time looking at the lid of a box or through the arse of a jam jar’. And what a send-off he got!

 “I remember thinking after his funeral, Carlsberg don’t do funerals, but if they did… U2 sang at his funeral, and the priest was hilarious, doing impressions of Tony. Then you had all the people who were there. The next day I felt like sending a text to Tony’s  phone, saying ‘that was some gig’,”

*The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show is on Today FM weekdays 7am-9am.