Irish broadcasting was plunged into mourning yesterday with the passing of DJ Tony Fenton, after a battle with prostate cancer.
Mr Fenton, 53, enjoyed a career spanning 30 years, during which his voice became one of the most recognisable on Irish airwaves.
Born Anthony James Fagan, he grew up in the north Dublin suburb of Glasnevin and had landed his first radio job in 1979 for pirate station ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin).
Stints at Sunshine Radio and in the original Radio Nova in the 1980s followed before, in 1985, he switched to 2FM, then known as Radio 2. He remained at the station until 2003, where he became a household name.
A year after leaving Donnybrook, he joined Today FM, where he presented a lunchtime show which continued until his broadcasting schedule had been affected by illness.
Malignant melanoma was detected in one of his legs in late 2010. He was given the all-clear the following March only to be diagnosed with prostate cancer just months later.
He passed away in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on Wednesday night. He had been inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame just last October — an honour he said was “like winning the World Cup”.
His death prompted a wave of tributes, led by his colleagues at Today FM.
Station boss Peter McPartlin said Mr Fenton was “a leading light” at the station. Ian Dempsey said his friend’s passing was “a major shock”, as did Mario Rosenstock, who said of his former colleague: “He lived life like a Carlsberg ad”.
On RTÉ, Ray D’Arcy said Fenton was “the real deal”, recalling how they knew each other for 25 years and how his former colleague was “a larger-than-life character” whose life was playing music.
Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland John Purcell said: “His was a voice that many of us grew up listening to.”
Jim Jennings, the MD of RTÉ Radio, recalled his radio catchphrase of “You’re the Winner” and said: “Tony was always larger than life and the ultimate showman — he was at his happiest when he was in studio when that red light went on.”
His former 2FM colleague, Dave Fanning, called him “a pilot of the airwaves”, while musicians, including Brian Kennedy, Aslan and Delorentos, were among those to pay tribute online, alongside record stores, TV3 and Munster Rugby.
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