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'disposable' Former 2fm star Keith Walsh blasts RTÉ as a 'toxic environment' to work in

"I felt rejection when the breakfast show was wound up... I felt like I wasn't good enough, not needed"

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 Broadcaster Keith Walsh Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Broadcaster Keith Walsh Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Broadcaster Keith Walsh Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Former 2fm presenter Keith Walsh says RTE was a "toxic environment" in which to work.

The ex-radio star announced that he would be leaving the station last September after hosting 2fm's morning Breakfast Republic show with Jennifer Zamparelli and Bernard O'Shea for five years.

He also presented from 5pm-7pm on 2fm most weekends and had a weekday spot on RTÉ Gold.

Keith has also lent his talents to the small screen, appearing in a variety of roles on RTÉ One, RTÉ Two and Virgin Media.

And although he enjoyed spending his mornings on the airwaves, Keith admitted that he "didn't feel appreciated" by RTÉ during his time there.

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Keith Walsh of 2FMs Breakfast Republic and his Wife Suzanne Picture Brian McEvoy

Keith Walsh of 2FMs Breakfast Republic and his Wife Suzanne Picture Brian McEvoy

Keith Walsh of 2FMs Breakfast Republic and his Wife Suzanne Picture Brian McEvoy

"I felt rejection when the breakfast show was wound up," the Kildare native told the Sunday World.

"I felt like I wasn't good enough, not needed, not wanted. I felt an enormous amount of rejection.

"I worked on the breakfast show for five years, which was great, but at the same time it's like, 'They're done with me and they've used me for five years and that's it. End of the road.'

"In life you need to feel like you're appreciated and needed and I didn't feel that, which can sound very negative. What I thought I could have brought to RTE wasn't needed and my skills and talents weren't seen by people within RTE as something that they needed."

Keith claimed the national broadcaster has "no real concern" for staff's mental health and treats employees like they're "disposable."

"I feel like radio and TV in Ireland is in a bad place," he said.

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2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

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"I'm not sure people are being looked after properly and I think there are some questions that need answering around treatment of people.

"I think it's a bit toxic at the moment. I find it's an industry that allows itself to take people on and let people go with no real concern for their wellbeing.

"A lot of radio stations, even local ones, are run through fear. They're afraid of expression and they try to control people. That's why they're toxic.

"I've seen friends of mine be let go and have their shows axed, or not getting contracts, and these people have children and mortgages that need looking after. They do a job and I think they should be rewarded for doing that job. They should be looked after and mental health should be looked after.

"They seem to have a view that the people on air and the people who create the content ultimately, that allow their radio stations and television to survive and be successful, are the ones that are disposable and treated with the least amount of respect and care."

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2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

2fm Breakfast Show presenters -Jennifer Maguire, Bernard O Shea and Keith Walsh. Picture:Brian McEvoy

The 43-year-old's comments come after 2fm DJ Louise McSharry announced she was leaving the station after 11 years and said she wasn't allowed to host her final shows last weekend. Keith, who is a friend of Louise and previously worked with her on iRadio, said she wasn't treated with respect by RTÉ.

"I think that's a shame. Out of respect for Louise and the work she did and the contribution she made to RTE... I can't see a reason why you wouldn't let someone do their last show," he added.

Since leaving RTE, Keith has taken some time to work on his mental health through regular therapy sessions and has now written a new theatre show about his personal experiences and battles.

Beginning its nationwide tour in Newbridge on November 19, Pure Mental aims to "get the message out there" about taking care of your mental health and the wonders of therapy.

"If I'm a man and I'm able to take to the stage and re-enact my childhood and talk about the reasons I needed to go to therapy and be that vulnerable, maybe it will help other men to do the same."

Pure Mental is Keith's first venture into playwriting, and the idea for the show came after his departure from RTE.

He decided to reconnect with his creative side in his Newbridge home with his wife Suzanne and their kids Hannah and Finn.

Keith brought his idea to director Janet Moran, who he met in college when studying Drama at Inchicore College of Further Education.

"[Leaving RTÉ] gives you a lot of freedom to write a play. It gives you the time to reflect on what it is you really want to do and there's a sense of proving people wrong and creating something on your own," Keith said.

"I had an idea for some sort of live stage show where I would read my short stories and I brought it to Janet [Moran] and she said, 'Look, I think there's a one-man show in this if you're up for it.' That was it."

In a statement, Dan Healy, head of 2fm said: "The reality of the competitive industry we operate in requires stations like 2fm to change their schedules regularly to meet the evolving needs of audiences.

"As a result, like all major stations in Ireland and across the world, we engage presenters through their agents for a fixed period."

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