Alison Curtis: 'She just fell apart after he died. That's the reality'

Radio broadcaster Alison Curtis speaks candidly about her career on the airwaves, the loss of her parents when she was young, and the indescribable love she feels for her own daughter
Alison Curtis: 'She just fell apart after he died. That's the reality'

Alison Curtis is the latest guest in The Moments That Made Me, the Weekend podcast from the Irish Examiner

Broadcaster and Irish Examiner columnist Alison Curtis said the connection between Irish radio and its listeners is impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.

The Canadian-born radio presenter was speaking to Ciara McDonnell on The Moments That Made Me, the Weekend podcast from the Irish Examiner.

“Radio in Ireland, I've always said, is unique. It's not like it in Canada, you don't build that kind of bond or that relationship,” she said.

“Your listeners become part of your life and you become part of theirs. Irish people are so generous, they let you become part of the biggest moments in their life, like their weddings, their births, everything that they go through. And people are really loyal.

“It has power in Ireland, and I love that. But that power comes from listeners.” 

She said she moved from Canada to Ireland and by chance went from being “the world’s worst PA” for the then-CEO of Today FM to getting her first job in radio on Ian Dempsey’s breakfast show in her early 20s — despite not knowing who he was.

“A lot of people use that phrase of 'learning from the best'. I absolutely did.  To have that opportunity right off, Ian is just so amazing, so humble,” she said.

Alison Curtis in Today FM. Picture: Instagram
Alison Curtis in Today FM. Picture: Instagram

“But I didn't know who he was. I think that that worked. I went on to stay on that show for over 10 years and produced the show. I think that that dynamic was really good because everybody else who came to the show grew up with him. 

"Obviously, I grew to completely revere him and I just think he's the best at what he does. Of course he is. But at the time I didn't know who he was.” 

Alison’s radio career was one of the defining moments of her life she speaks about on the podcast. She also discusses the death of her parents when she was young and the birth of her beloved daughter, Joan.

Her father died aged just 49 after experiencing ill health for years and Alison said her mother died four years later “of a broken heart”.

“She just fell apart after he died. That's the reality. They were very much each other's soulmates.” 

She said losing both of their parents made her and her twin sister grow up fast and she realised how many skills she needed to learn to survive. She said she tries to equip Joan with the skills she didn’t have in case she ever needs them.

 Alison Curtis and her daughter Joan. Picture Moya Nolan
Alison Curtis and her daughter Joan. Picture Moya Nolan

“There were definitely dark moments and definitely struggles with just day-to-day life,” Alison said of the time after her mother died.

“That in itself has made me think of my own daughter. I know it's a bit morbid, but I want her to have those skills, regardless of what happens with us, so that she's better equipped when she gets older. We really, obviously, we got a shock with that side of things, too. Like we just didn’t know how to do stuff.” 

When discussing her daughter, Alison said Joan had the biggest impact on her life.

“What I've learned with Joan is I've learned a love that I didn't even think was possible. You think you know love. I love my twin sister. I love my husband, I loved my parents. But this love for her, you can't describe it.

What I have actually learned from her as well is to really slow down sometimes. To really appreciate the moments and put the phone down, look at her, play with her, do something. Throughout her life, I did take moments to pause and really look and play and try and remember these moments. Savour them. I've learned that from her. She's amazing. She's a great little girl.”

Subscribe to get the latest episode of The Moments That Made Me, the Weekend Podcast

Weekend Podcast - The Moments That Made Me
Weekend Podcast - The Moments That Made Me

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Want to get in touch? Email weekendpodcast@examiner.ie

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