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Dave Fanning says pal Gerry Ryan would have rallied against 'woke culture' as he marks 11 years since his death

“The woke thing is killing everything at the moment, and Gerry would not have stood for that.”

Gerry Ryan and Dave Fanning worked together in a pirate radio station before joining RTE

Eddie Rowley

RADIO legend Dave Fanning has told how his old pal Gerry Ryan, whose 11th anniversary occurs today, would be railing against today’s “woke culture.”

Shock jock Ryan, who was just 53-years- old when he died suddenly in 2010, famously broke down barriers and tackled taboo issues in Irish society on his hugely successful 2fm morning show.

However, Fanning believes that society has regressed in the 11 years since Ryan’s passing.

“I just feel we’ve gone backwards a lot in the PC world we now live in,” Dave tells SundayWorld.com

“Back then, I would find myself saying quite a lot of the time that ‘this is a game changer, nothing will be the same again, this has just changed everything, it has moved on now.’

“But, actually, that’s just not true. Sometimes things go right back and to me, in many ways, things have gone right back and I go, ‘Jesus, if Gerry Ryan was around now he would be able to do that, he’d get away with that and nobody would be offended.

“The old woke culture is pulling everybody back with a big lasso. Gerry wouldn’t have had any time for that. He would have helped us to break up the PC world that we live in, and I really miss that.”

Would he have been allowed by RTE chiefs? “Well, that’s a point,” Dave says. “In one way, Gerry was Gerry, so he got away with anything on one level. It was almost, ‘ah sure, it’s only Gerry saying that.’ If Pat Kenny said the same thing he’d be sacked.

“When I think of some of the things that Gerry did, they were so advanced and so forward, and we really have gone back in so many ways.

“He broke barriers and he really brought us out of a terrible time in Ireland. It’s like the outcry when Sinead O’Connor tore up the picture of the pope in New York, and then 10 years later everything was proved to be correct…to fight the real enemy, which was the Catholic Church. She was 100 per cent correct.

“The woke thing is killing everything at the moment, and Gerry would not have stood for that.”

Does Fanning find himself second guessing what he’s going to say on air? “No, not in the slightest,” Dave responds. “And I hope you’re not implying that Gerry might have done that. Gerry never had an unspoken thought in his head, he just kept going. The more riffing he could do the better. It certainly wouldn’t have stopped him.”

Fanning and Ryan were part of 2fm’s night time music shows for years before Gerry moved to his ground breaking radio slot on the station.

“I remember Bill O’Donovan (then boss of 2fm) coming to me in 1988, when we were on night time, and discussing about putting Gerry on in the morning,” Dave recalls.

“I told Bill that it would be great in a perfect world, but we don’t live in a perfect world. I said, ‘Nobody is going to ‘get’ Gerry’s humour, it’s too Monty Python for the daytime listener, he’s much more of a night time person.’ I wasn’t against it; I just thought it would never work.

“Even Gerry didn’t know if it would work, nor did he give a damn. Gerry wasn’t ambitious on that level. He wasn’t really looking for anything. He wasn’t dying to do the morning and get out of night time. In those days, people did really listen to the radio at night, so he was happy there.

Gerry Ryan and Dave Fanning at the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin Chernobyl Children's lunch in 2007.

“But they did it, and within a week it was a huge success. The minute he went on morning radio he was the exact same person he was at night, and it worked a dream. It really went well from the word go.”

Gerry’s death in 2010 sent shock waves through the nation and there was a huge outpouring of grief. The Late Late Show dedicated a tribute to Gerry that night, and Dave was on the panel. “I remember there was a famous (Hollywood) actress on the show that night as well, and she didn’t know what was going on.

“When we were in make-up she was saying, ‘I know that someone very famous here has died.’ She had no idea who Gerry was, but she knew it was huge event in Ireland. It was like, ‘Has the king of Ireland been assassinated?’”

Although they were close friends, Fanning says he didn’t see much of Ryan in the decade before he died. “To be honest, I didn’t see an awful lot of Gerry in the last 10 years, but that’s the way life goes, you go off in different directions,” Dave says.

“Gerry was hanging with a different crowd. It was not my lifestyle at all. It was terrible losing Gerry, but I don’t feel sad today. We have lost so many people since then. That’s life.”

How would Gerry have coped with this pandemic? “Would he have broken some of the rules? I’d say he possibly would,” Dave laughs.

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