Veteran RTÉ broadcaster Larry Gogan has died. In January last year, the broadcasting legend sat down withto talk about his career highlights and that famous ‘Just A Minute’ myth.
When it was recently announced that Larry Gogan was to leave 2FM after 40 years, there was an outpouring of tributes to the much-loved DJ who has been a fixture on our airwaves since the 1960s.
However, Gogan — who doesn’t like to reveal his age — is keen to point out he’s not retiring, just moving to a new home in RTÉ Gold. He told the Irish Examiner about turning down the BBC, how he still misses vinyl and also revealed the truth about some of those Just a Minute quiz answers….
They’re all making a big fuss, which is embarrassing, to tell you the truth. I’m not retiring, I’m just moving to RTÉ Gold. I suppose I have been in 2FM for 40 years, since I played the first record. I’ve been there since day one. And I was in RTÉ before that, with Radio One.
I used to listen to AFN as a boy, the American Forces Network in Europe, and Radio Luxembourg. I remember thinking I wanted to be one of those fellas that played the records because it seemed to me to be a very easy kind of job, just sitting there playing records. Strangely enough, I was on Radio Luxembourg later, when Butch Moore won the Eurovision. I did a sponsored broadcast on it for about six months. We had very few pop programmes here. There was nothing on RTÉ at the time.
I loved Elvis and The Beatles. To this day, their music stands up, it is amazing. I thought Elvis was the greatest of them all. My only regret is that I never met him. He was fantastic, he was really able to move as well. In America, they wouldn’t show him on television from the waist down, which fascinated me at the time. The whole career of the Beatles was only ten years really, but to this day, they still sell records. They had fantastic songs.
We had a shop in Fairview in Dublin and one of the customers was Maura Fox, who was a producer of sponsored radio shows. I asked her would she give me an audition and she did. We recorded the sponsored programmes at the Eamon Andrews studio. RTÉ were looking for new DJs in 1961; up to then, a lot of the music programmes would have been done by actors. I did an audition, there wasn’t much to it, if they liked your voice, they picked you.
It was on a programme called Morning Melody. That was my first live show. I had done recorded and sponsored shows before that. I was very nervous. I had a script and I memorised it. You didn’t pick your own records or anything.
I didn’t see The Beatles when they were in the Adelphi in Dublin but I saw Paul McCartney on his own a few years back. I saw the Bee Gees, who were great. I’ve seen lots of great Irish bands, especially the showbands, The Capitol, The Royal, The Dixies — I was a great fan of Brendan O’Brien and Joe McCarthy, of course.
I liked Alan Freeman on Radio Luxembourg, he was very slick. When he introduced a band, he would give you the bare essentials. He didn’t have long scripts. I liked Pete Murray, David Jacobs…. I’m always afraid to name any Irish ones. I loved Terry Wogan, he was a great broadcaster.
They were doing programmes from different countries and they asked me to do one about Irish pop music. It was a one-off programme and then I got a letter from them asking me would I join them. At the time, I had five kids at home, I didn’t want to uproot my family so I didn’t go. I was quite happy here. I can’t complain, I’ve had a happy life.
It was fantastic. There was a great buzz about the place. Vincent Hanley and myself always talked about our hopes for a pop music station in RTÉ; before Radio 2, it was all the pirate stations that played pop music. They asked me to play the first record and I said it should be by an Irish act, so I played the Boomtown Rats’ ‘Like Clockwork’.
Seeing Johnny Logan win was fantastic. It was great to be from Ireland and be there when he won
We did an awful lot of stuff on the road, hundreds of people would come out. One of the biggest outside broadcasts I remember was in Patrick Street in Cork, when Michael Jackson was playing there. We broadcast from Golden Discs, and there were literally thousands of people outside. Kim Wilde was a support act for Michael Jackson and they were bringing her in to be interviewed. There were so many people there, they couldn’t get through the crowds. The people from the record company were afraid that she would be mobbed and they drove off.
A: It completely amazes me. I’m going to RTÉ Gold, which is a digital station, that you can get on your phone, your computer and your television, it’s hard to believe. You can get so many stations from around the world now at the touch of a button. It has completely changed the way we play records.
When I started, the records would be picked for us, then we brought in our own. Now you don’t even see a record, you put the name in and it just pops up. I like the feel of vinyl and all the information you get on a record sleeve. We also used to get sackloads of requests. We don’t get mail at all now, it’s all texts. But life moves on, where would you be if it didn’t? As the fella says, you’d still be riding a horse.
I like rock music, I’m a big fan of U2, I always have been. I think it’s fantastic that they’ve lasted 40 years and are still relevant today. I listen to a lot of radio as well.
A: A lot of them are true but some are made up.“Where’s the Taj Mahal? Opposite the Dental Hospital.” That’s true.
What about this famous one:
That’s not true at all. I remember a fella told me he nearly crashed the car when he heard that. He didn’t hear it at all. People’s imaginations are fantastic. It never happened. It makes a good story though.