Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MARK CAGNEY

Mark Cagney was born in 1956 in Cork, Ireland. Cagney was the eldest of eight children but he left home at age 15 due to a difficult relationship with his father, who he described as a "remarkable man": an inventor, a musician, a mechanic, and a lecturer in electronics. His father was a professional double bass player with Irish Showbands like ‘The Regal Showband’. Cagney learned how to take care of himself as a result of being on his own so early. He longed to have some musical ability, but settled for working with a variety of bands. He also learned about audio and audio studio processes; this got him a job as a shore-based radio operator in Cork Harbour. As a young lad Mark listened on a crystal radio set to Radio Luxembourg and Radio Northsea to hear the music of a generation that was being ignored on the national broadcaster RTE. He quickly developed an ambition to be ‘the king of late night radio’.
As a teenager Mark was being paid £2.50 to act as roadie for a number of bands including Horslips before a chance meeting with a DJ Ken Fitzgerald Smith proved that Mark could get more pay DJing as Smith earned ten pounds for his gig. Mark did not complete his secondary school education and he ended up devoting his pay check to visiting night clubs; when a disk jockey did not show up for work, Cagney was asked to fill in, doing well enough at it to become a regular on the pirate radio station CBC (Cork Broadcasting Corporation) using the on air name ‘Mark Green’. At that time he was on air with another RTE stalwart John Creedon. Mark now had two jobs. Before long his illegal days were behind him after local RTE man Paddy O’Connor gave Mark an audition for the local channel RTE Local Radio Cork. Mark began presenting a programme called ‘New Releases’ on Cork Local Radio on March 11th 1977. The first song he reviewed was ‘My Best friends Girl’ by the Cars.
He moved to Donnybrook in 1977 working as a fill in presenter on a number of shows and on May 31sy 1979 he was part of the original line-up of 2FM, broadcasting on its first night on air. He originally shared the hosting of ‘Night Moves’ with Jimmy Greeley, Jimmy presenting mid week and Mark on the weekends. When he first began with 2FM, he called himself "Mark Anthony". Mark would later present a variety of shows, from the seminal Night Train to the Drivetime show. In 1985 he won a Jacobs' Award for his midnight radio show. While at RTE he got his first taste of TV presenting on RTE2’s ‘Irelands Eye’ magazine show and inserts on the iconic MT USA with the late Vincent Hanley. In 1989 he joined the new 98FM for what Mark freely admits was for the financial gain and stability the job gave him. He remained at 98FM for seven years. He had been poached away from the national broadcaster as part of Denis O’Brien’s Radio 2000 franchise bid to the IRTC. He then joined the national commercial Today FM in 1998 before leaving the world of radio to work in front of the cameras at TV3 Ireland. He won the TV Personality of the Year Award in 2005 at the 3rd Irish Film and Television Awards. Today he still hosts the breakfast show Ireland AM on TV3. Ireland AM was TV3’s serious attempt to improve its rating and without breakfast TV competition from RTE, the show was a hit for the commercial channel. The show first went on air at 7am on September 20th 1999, one year after TV3s launch. The original presenters were Mark and Amanda Byram. Mark is still with the show requiring a 3.30am alarm call to be at the Ballymount studios by 5am.
`Bill (Hughes) told me an old pal Andrew Hanlon was to be in charge of it. Andrew and I had been in 98FM together so I rang him up. I said, `Andrew, I'm probably not right for it, I'm probably 'way too old, but you'll be auditioning 150 people so 151 won't make any difference. I want a shot at it. He sounded surprised, but said, `OK, we're starting the real auditions at 2.30 tomorrow, so you can come in at 2pm.' And I did, and after a second test Andrew called and said the gig was mine if I wanted it, and here I am. I was at a stage and at a place in my life that a radical change was almost inevitable.’
He lives in Dublin with his second wife Audrey Byrne and their 4 children. Mark met Audrey while they both worked at 98FM in Dublin. His first wife, Ann Humphries, whom he met when he was 19, died of a brain haemorrhage after suddenly collapsing while shopping on Grafton Street. The couple had been married 11 years. When Ann died, Cagney was devastated and admitted to contemplating suicide. Audrey provided emotional support which turned into love.

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