This much I know: Ronan Collins

I’m a familiar voice allowed into people’s homes.

I don’t have any ideas about myself. I’m not an iconic broadcaster.

I was always crazy about music. I wanted to be in a band or on the radio — anything to do with music. My uncle had a drum-kit and I started playing when I was just a little kid. It came easily and I had good rhythm. I was a fairly normal, outgoing child, not too much of a showoff.

I began as a drummer and singer with The Others and Dickie Rock, in the showband era. We were performing in RTÉ in 1979 when I heard of and went for auditions for the new station, Radio 2.

I was a year married and remember saying to my wife ‘if I get 12 months out of this I’ll be lucky.’ That was 36 years ago. My father was an army officer and a strict disciplinarian. My parents never said no to my choice of career, but they didn’t exactly encourage it either. I think they were always wait-ing for me to get a proper job.

I was hugely nervous in the beginning. Talking on radio came naturally to me, but being natural is not enough, you need a discipline. I believe in having a routine and I’m still learning. My show is just me, no producer or broadcast assistant, with direction by the listeners. I have a running order, but usually the first thing I do is tear it up.

I’ve been on air daytime weekdays for 36 years without a break. Larry Gogan hasn’t even done that! I did a lot of television and was the face of Lotto until the type of entertainment game shows I did went out of fashion. My idea of misery is having to punch a clock at 8.30am and 5.30pm, to feel that I’m at the behest of somebody else.

I suppose you could say that I do punch a clock, but working in RTÉ is never a chore because I enjoy it so much. I will be 63 later this year and my biggest challenge has been trying to maintain a successful relationship. I first saw my wife Woody in a record shop. She turned me down a few times. We’ve been married for 37 years.

She is a badminton coach. We have three children Damian, Lisa and Jessica. If I could be someone else for a day I’d be Ernie Els so that I could play golf like him, on one of his best days, of course. I still like to play although my new passion is for my grandson Caleb, my love for him is illogical.

My greatest fault is being snappy. About stupid things, like there being a place for everything and having everything in its place. I inherited that from my father. When I snap at home now, they just roll their eyes.

The trait I most admire in others is loyalty. As you get older it becomes more difficult to maintain friendships, it is extraordinary how people just drop off your radar. I don’t believe in heaven and hell and I don’t believe it’s over when we die. But we don’t have the mental capacity to know what happens, it’s on a different plane, and although I can’t understand it, it holds no fear for me. I am a Christian in attitude, but that doesn’t mean that I think ours is the only true way.

I believe that you make your own luck and I certainly think I have been lucky. I’m back on the road now with ‘Reeling in the Showband Years’, I MC the show and do a bit of singing — I’m no longer the drummer. Our next big tour will be in January and February.

My mother died five weeks ago. She was 95 and a half, a great age and compos mentis up to the last, the half was just a step too far.

* Tune into The Ronan Collins Show Monday - Friday, 12 - 1pm, RTE Radio 1


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