I’m the jammiest person I know. I’ve ended up working at what used to be my hobby.
I wanted to do something music- related from an early age. My parents had tons of vinyl records. When I got older, radio was the only thing I had a huge interest in. Eighty eight percent of this country listen to radio every day because it is such a great medium. I love being on air. Especially when people say I brighten their day.
I don’t know how many people find their true calling but I do believe it is never too late to pursue what you want to do.
I’m from Castlebar in Co Mayo. My father left school when he was young as his own father passed away and there was no such thing as life insurance back then. He joined a health- care company, working his way all the way up to senior management.
I was a distracted, shy child. I don’t think I was never in trouble. When I turned 17, I studied radio and journalism in Dublin for a couple of years at Ballyfermot Senior College. There was no work for me when I returned to Mayo so I borrowed £3,000 to set up my own radio station. Why not? It turned into quite a business, selling advertising, until I saw an undercover squad car outside.
They sat me down and started quizzing me about all the activity, the loud dance music coming from the apartment. In the end, they let it go but out of that, I got a job offer from Midwest Radio.
I wanted to be Mr Hot Jock, on air and playing music, from the start. Later on I realised that you also need to work in programming and to work towards senior management.
My idea of misery is doing something that doesn’t challenge me creatively. I don’t think I’d do well working in a factory glueing handles onto cups all day.
I found being on air weird at first, like I was playing a role. It was a breakfast show, so I was expected to be Mr Sunshine, but when I closed the mic, I could be dying inside.
I have become more disciplined and organised in the last five years, once my children came along. When I was in my 20s, I was a disaster. I even got fired once due to lack of organisation, or lack of respect. I was 21, working on Galway Bay FM. Galway City, money and youth were a bad combination and I forgot to get up a few times. When they fired me from the early morning slot, I felt as if I’d lost my legs, I felt that bad about it. But they rehired me to do the evening show.
My biggest fault is being over protective towards my kids. I’m always freaking out and worrying about them and my wife Rachel. She is a montessori teacher with her own business in Douglas. We met on a night out in a Cork nightclub at an event for a friend who had passed away. She was there by chance. I was working at it. Rob was the friend’s name. Now, we have our own little Robin, who is five, and, Fia who is two.
One of my biggest challenges came recently when I was working in Dublin at Today FM. I’d worked all my life to get to a job like the one I had there but Rachel wasn’t happy. Cork women are hard to get out of Cork. So I said you go home with the girls and I’ll commute. I did it for three years until it started to affect my head and my job. Deciding to move back to Cork was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make. But now, I love being on Red FM.
I can be horrifically self critical. It goes with the job.
I’m chilled out at home but can get a bit manic at work. I run and go the the gym twice a week. I’m up at 4.15am but that means I’m home at 3pm. I’m pretty wrecked by evening and in bed by 8pm.
If I could be someone else for a day, I’d be Barack Obama. I’m a big reader of books on spirituality but I’ve no idea if there is an afterlife.
KC (Keith Cunningham) is the programme director and Breakfast Show presenter on Cork’s Red FM
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