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Saturday, 16 January 2016

The 2015 Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame Inductees

Jimmy Magee

Popularly known as ‘Mr Memory Man’, Jimmy’s wealth and depth of trivia sports knowledge has contributed to his position as one of the best sports commentators of all time.

Born in New York in January 1935 and raised in County Louth, he joined Radio Eireann in the late 1950’s before moving to the fledging television station RTE in the 1960’s. He has commentated on eleven World Cup finals in soccer beginning in 1966 and numerous Olympic Games providing some of the most iconic commentaries on medal winning Irish sports stars including John Treacy’s silver medal in the 1984 Marathon and Katie Taylor’s boxing Gold Medal at the London Olympics.
He has also been the voice of RTE’s coverage of the Tour De France, the City’s Cycling series and the Superstars TV series.

His sports knowledge was used extensively on RTE’s long running sports quiz programme ‘Know Your Sport’ presented by George Hamilton with Jimmy by his side airing from 1987 to 1998.

Tommy Gorman

Sligo born Tommy joined RTE in 1980 as the station’s North West correspondent. In 2002 Tommy gained global recognition as he gained an exclusive with footballer Roy Keane who had exited the Republic of Ireland world cup training camp in Saipan following a bust up with the manager.

Since 2001, Tommy has been RTE’s Northern Ireland editor and correspondent having briefly served as the European chief for the station in Brussels. In 1994 Tommy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, the same form that killed Apple CEO Steve Jobs but treatment both at home and in Sweden has stabilized the situation and Tommy continues to provide in depth, insightful and honest coverage from Belfast.

Ireland Calls

Ireland Calls is a radio programme broadcast to the tri state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut aimed at the Irish Diaspora. The show has been on the air on various local radio stations since 1969. It was begun by Tommy Smyth, a native of County Louth who is also a popular soccer commentator on ESPN. His co host is his wife Treasa, a native of County Cork who went to New York to become a nurse. She also played GAA in the Big Apple and it was while Tommy was commentating from Gaelic Park that the two men.
The show is a must listen for many new Irish in the US and those Irish Americans seeking a heritage and can currently be heard on WVOX 1460AM.

Adrian Kennedy

From 1997 until 2013 Adrian was the ‘shock jock’ who presented FM 104’s late night phone show. Often controversial in both topic and conversation, the show rose from what was the graveyard shift to a must listen in the city with Adrian at the helm.

In 2014 he moved from FM 104 to its rival 98FM and moved from the night time to daytime with Dublin Talks.
The father of two had began his career in pirate radio in the mid 1980’s after he left school. He honed his skills on the popular Bray Local Broadcasting which closed in accordance with the 1988 Wireless Telegraphy Act.

Vincent Browne

Limerick born Vincent was educated at University College Dublin and is best known as journalist with newspapers like the Irish Press and as editor of the Sunday Tribune and magazines like Magill and The Village but it is his services to the broadcast medium that see Vincent inducted in the Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

In 1996 he joined RTE Radio One presented a political interview an analysis show ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne.’ He presented the show until 2007 when it was announced that Vincent was moving from Radio to TV and from the state broadcaster to its commercial rival TV3. He had some TV exposure on RTE as he presented Primetime briefly but it was his work at TV3 and his ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ aired after TV3’s late news headlines.

In May 2015 he received critical acclaim for his post Marriage Equality Referendum show that was broadcast live from the iconic gay pub The George on Georges Street.

Sean Radley

Sean is the man behind LTV2, the local Millstreet, Co Cork television channel that for many years operated as a pirate TV channel but most recently as an online station. Sean a former National School Teacher is also the curator of the popular Millstreet Museum. LTV2 features a host of local stories and musicians keeping locals informed of events and forthcoming events, a lifeline in a rural community.


Cork Community Television serves Ireland’s second city with local programming. In their mission statement the station states ‘it’s primary aim is to enable communities to make, manage and broadcast television programmes to their communities’. Following a pilot project in 2005, the voluntary station applied for a full community license in 2006 which was granted. The station officially went on air in May 2009 broadcasting locally on the cable network.

Wanderly Wagon

The famous flying wagon was to a number of generations of Irish child the greatest TV programme on air. Perhaps easy to say when Ireland was only one channel land but the way the show and its characters are so fondly remembered is enduring.

Wanderly Wagin was co created by puppeteer Eugene Lambert and Don Lennox and first went on air in black and white on Saturday September 30th 1967. It introduced us to a host of popular characters including Bill Goulding playing Rory, Nora O’Mahony playing Godmother and Eugene playing the role of O’Brien. The puppets on the show were just as popular, Mr. Crow, Judge (the dog who starred in the famous road safety commercial for the Green Cross Code) and Mr Snake.

The show ran until 1982 by then in colour and for many the theme tune is instantly recognisable today.

Sean Ban Breathnach

Galway born Sean joined Radio Eireann in 1969 becoming the first to present a popular music programme on radio in the native Irish language ‘Popseo Na Mairte’. In the early 1970s he made his way onto television with his first programme being ‘Imeall’.

In 1974 he joined the newly opened Radio na Gaeltachta while still working on RTE television presenting the popular ‘SBB in a Shui’ from 1976 to 1982. In 1991 Sean was awarded a Jacobs Award for his sports commentaries on RnaG Sport.

Sean has been passionate about his work, his language and some of his commentaries especially that of Katie Taylor winning an Olympic boxing Gold Medal have become internet viral sensations. A very worthy inductee to the Hall of Fame.

Terry Wogan

Michael Terence Wogan was born in Limerick in 1938 and while much of his career has been spent in Britain, it is for his Irish broadcasting exploits and his contribution to the Irish broadcasting ethos abroad that see Terry inducted into the Hall of Fame.

A career hosting such iconic programmes as Children in Need (1980 – 2014), The Eurovision Song Contest (1971 – 2008) and his own chat show on BBC television and a huge listenership garnered through his various radio shows on BBC Radio 2, began in Dublin.

He joined Radio Eireann in 1961 working as a continuity announcer and a newsreader before moving to the new medium television when it opened in 1962. He hosted a number of shows on RTE including the popular quiz show Jackpot. (See our earlier posts on the history of the Irish TV Quiz Shows.) Terry left to cross the Irish sea and more success in 1969.

Joe Duffy

Dublin born Joe with his slogan 'talking to Joe' made his reputation as a roving reporter on The Gay Byrne Show on RTE Radio1. The former Trinity College student, Joe is today associated with RTE Radio's Liveline programme that airs from 1.45pm - 3pm weekdays. The often imitated presenter has become the moral compass of modern Irish society as the phone in show allows the public to air their grievances and troubles.In a troubled economy the shows 'Fiver Friday' became a nationwide hit. Joe recently published a comprehensive literary work on the children who lost their lives during the 1916 Easter Rising.   

Marty Whelan

Marty Hall as he was known on air began his radio career on the pirate radio station Radio Dublin before moving to Big D Radio in 1978 following a much publicised split in the stations. Dublin born Marty left the illegal world of broadcasting to join the national station RTE 2 in 1979. In 1986 Marty won a Jacob's Award for his broadcasting skills. In 1989 he left the state broadcaster to join the new national independent commercial station Century FM. The station opened in a blaze of publicity but poor ratings and advertising revenue led to its closure in 1991, and Marty had lost his job. Marty rejoined RTE and in 2009 moved to Lyric FM. Along side his radio career, Marty has not only made his name on radio but has enjoyed a very successful TV career hosting many of the nation's most iconic and memorable shows.These included
                            The quiz show Where in The World 1986-1989
                                        The Open House afternoon show
                National Lottery TV Shows including Millionaire, Fame & Fortune
                                         and most recently Winning Streak
                                           The Rose of Tralee 1997 -2003
and Marty has been RTE's TV commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest.  

Ronan O’Rahilly

When it comes to the name Ronan O’Rahilly only one broadcasting enterprise comes to mind, Radio Caroline. The Caroline story is long, complex and colourful but its pioneer was the grandson of a Easter Rising rebel The O’Rahilly. Born in 1940 in County Louth Ronan became well known in the club scene in London and went on to be a music manager. He struggled to get his artists played on the airwaves on the two main pop stations Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio 1. To circumvent this barricade he bought a ship and had it converted in the family shipyard in Greenore, County Louth. Named after the daughter of US President John  F Kennedy, Radio Caroline went on air on Easter Sunday 1964. Ronan was inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame in 2012.

Tony Fenton  

The late great Tony Fenton was a product of the pirate radio era. Born in Dublin in 1961, Tony sadly passed away in March 2015. He began his career in the late 1970's on ARD before forging a popular career on the super pirates Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio. In 1985 he joined RTE 2FM, staying with the national broadcaster until 2003 when he briefly left the airwaves only to return the following year on the independent national commercial station Today FM. In 2008 he was named PPI Broadcaster of The Year.
As a result of his passing all radio stations across the country simultaneously broadcast 'I Say A Little Prayer' at 2.30pm on the day of his funeral. 

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