This much I know: Keith Walsh, radio DJ

Performing didn’t come naturally to me. I was quite a nervous child. Shy but extrovert at the same time. 
This much I know: Keith Walsh, radio DJ

I felt awkward and self conscious around people but the weird thing was that I had this urge to push myself to do things that scared me, like to perform in front of other people.

My childhood dreams were to become a professional footballer or a singer, but I wouldn’t say DJ was on the list.

The best shows are the ones where we make each other laugh.

Breakfast Republic is tightly scripted where it has to be, with spaces for us to ad lib and have fun. All the planning is there to give us places from which to jump off and things to fall back on.

To this day, I work hard at getting things right before I go on air. I’m generally OK if I get enough sleep — although that is a problem with doing breakfast radio.

I avoid things that might make me feel panicky. I gave up caffeine, as tea and coffee make things worse. I go to the gym and eat healthily.

The great thing about having to get up so early is that my workday is done by 11am. I set my alarm for 4am and get up at 4.30. Work starts at 6am and its a four hour show. Then there’s an hour or so admin afterwards and it’s home for a nap. I’m free to collect the kids from school and make dinner. I try to get to sleep by 10pm.

Sunday used to be a write off. I spent it mentally preparing for work but I’ve become more blasé and better able to balance my work and home life. I used to get very stressed about getting the kids and myself to bed early.

I left school thinking I’d do a year getting my portfolio together for NCAD. But I did a three year drama course and was all geared up to act. I went to about four auditions and didn’t get any of them and simply gave up — not realising most people have to do hundreds before they find success.

I started going out with my wife Suzanne when we were 16. We met at school in Newbridge. I was hugely into art but there was no art class in my school, so I had to go over to join hers. We’ve been together since and have a daughter of 14 and a son of eight.

I worked in pubs and shops and headed off travelling for a few years with my wife, all around the world. When we got back to Ireland, I got into radio through a friend. I wasn’t terribly good at the start. We did comedy sketches based on Harry Enfield and The Fast Show. My break was getting onto Phantom and then Spin.

The best advice I ever received was to listen to all the tips that everyone gives you — and then, do whatever you want yourself.

I used to fear getting older but I’m no longer afraid of dying. I believe something happens after we die. There is so much we don’t know or understand about the power of the body and the mind.

I understand why people might need organised religion but I don’t agree with it. The good has been negated by all the bad that happened in the church in Ireland. I think religion set us back more than the Famine, more than our fight for freedom even.

The trait I most admire in others is the ability to stick up for what you believe is right in the face of adversity.

If I could be someone else for a day I’d like to be Roy Keane. I have tremendous respect for the man. I was firmly on his side in the Saipan debacle. He did what he thought was right for himself as a man and I admire him for it.

My biggest fault is that I can be too self-absorbed. I find it hard to let go and enjoy the moment.

If I could add something to the curriculum in schools, I think there should be a class on performance. It was frowned upon as ‘showing off’ when I was a child but I’m not talking about that — I’m talking about giving kids the skills to have more confidence and to get over any nervousness.

So far, life has taught me the importance of being honest and true to myself. And, the absolute necessity of not getting in your own way.

Keith Walsh presents Breakfast Republic every weekday, 6-10am, on RTÉ 2FM.

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