Henry Condon, 52, the founding chief executive of Cork’s RedFM, died at Marymount Hospice yesterday following a three-year battle with cancer. .
Mr Condon, from St Luke’s in Cork, began his broadcasting career in the early 1980s with South Coast Radio as DJ Alan Reid.
He worked with some of the super-pirate radio stations in Dublin before moving to Britain in 1989 to broadcast on Atlantic 252, where he won a Sony Radio Award, rising to become its programme director.
He moved to Chrysalis Radio, where he was appointed boss at Manchester’s Galaxy 102, before becoming the programme director on Virgin Radio at the time Chris Evans was its flagship breakfast show star.
Mr Condon returned to Cork to launch youth station RedFM on Jan 16, 2002, where he pioneered late-night talk shows with Charlie Wolf, and introduced a syndicated dance music show presented by Pete Tong and Roger Sanchez.
RedFM board member Dermot Hanrahan led tributes yesterday.
“It’s very hard to think about Henry without visualising his face, and it’s impossible to visualise his face without seeing a smile on it,” said Me Hanrahan. “He was one of these people whose natural demeanour was smiling.”
Accountant Vivian Nathan Jr, a co-founder of RedFM, praised Mr Condon for his pioneering role in youth radio in Ireland.
“He was the key guy in building it up from an idea in my father’s office to where it is today,” said Mr Nathan. “I don’t know if it could have been done by anybody else.
“He brought on the talent and had a great ear for programming — knowing what would work and what would be liked.”
Mr Condon sold his shares in RedFM a few years later. In recent years, he provided consultancy services to stations around the world including Cork’s 96FM and C103FM.
Kieran McGeary, the stations’ chief executive and programme director, said Mr Condon was passionate about radio and knew the industry inside out.
“People loved to work for him, and presenters respected him as he had been a notable presenter himself. They respected that,” said Mr McGeary.
“In his management roles, he wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions. He was absolutely immersed in radio and loved it. He would talk about it 24 hours a day if possible.”
96FM DJ Steve Haze worked with Mr Condon at Atlantic. “He had a great voice, and a passion for radio,” he said. “He was always looking for something new to put a new twist on it.”
He said that, at the height of Spice Girls mania, Mr Condon decided rebranded Atlantic as Spice 102 for April Fool’s Day.
Mr Condon is survived by his wife Becky and his daughter, Kate, from a previous relationship. Funeral arrangements are being finalised.
One of my radio heroes passed away today. Henry Owens gave me my first major radio gig in RedFM over 10 years ago. One of the greats #RIP— KC (@kcshowcork) September 16, 2013