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Friday 31 March 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# pilot of the airwaves
"Never duplicate the dude": Tributes paid to radio legend Tony Fenton
The DJ has died at the age of 53.

Updated at 11pm

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid to DJ Tony Fenton, who has died at the age of 53.

The veteran radio presenter, who spent time on pirate stations Radio Luxembourg and Radio Caroline before moving on to RTE and then Today FM, had been treated recently for prostate cancer.

He was known for his catchphrase ‘You’re the winner!’, and for presenting a large number of music shows throughout the past few decades.

As news broke about his death, his former colleague Dave Fanning told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that Tony was “always good, great fun. He was what it was to be a DJ”.

Kenny said: “I never saw him in bad form, even when he was sick.”

His former colleague Will Leahy wrote a moving Facebook post about Tony, saying:

will leahy Will Leahy Will Leahy

For those of us who worked with Tony, he was quite literally the dj’s “dj”. He was, off air, exactly the same as he was on air. Larger than life, the booming voice and the cheesy one liners !

“So shocked”

Ian Dempsey, Mario Rosenstock and Peter McPartlin shared their memories about Tony Fenton during a special news tribute to the late DJ on Today FM this afternoon.

Tony Fenton’s legacy, said Ian Dempsey, “will be his positivity”.

“We are so shocked about this,” he said of the DJ’s death.

Rosenstock said that since the news broke, the station’s staff members had “stood out there totally silent… the whole station has been standing out there for 45 minutes to an hour because… they all love him. Everybody loves him. Everybody is hugging each other”.

He also described Fenton as “mischievous, he was warm, he was a complete gentleman”, and said that he would get a round of applause just for walking into the office.

McPartlin said that Fenton was “a leading light” for Today FM, who had the habit of “taking the steam out of” difficult occasions and putting them into perspective.  ”He lived for radio and he lived for Today FM,” he added.

Ian Dempsey said that “Tony liked people to be happy”, and encouraged people to remember the late DJ “as a really positive guy” who had hopefully inspired people.

He said that his friend wouldn’t have liked people to “get down” over the news.

Listen to the Today FM tribute here:

Today FM / YouTube

‘Keep It Tight And Sound Butch’

Ray D’Arcy – a former Today FM colleague of Fenton’s – began his RTÉ Radio 1 show this afternoon with warm tribute to the DJ.

Other presenters would change their persona when going on air, D’Arcy said.

They’d be talking away and the red light would come on and they’d go ‘Heyyy – how’ya doin’. Tony lived that life – that was him.

Telling a story about Fenton’s 30th birthday party – D’Arcy said he had arrived at the hotel function room (as Aslan were playing – Tony ‘had connections’) and asked the presenter to explain the mysterious ‘K.I.T.A.S.B’ lettering on his party invites.

“I said – Tony, what does K.I.T.A.S.B mean?”

“Keep It Tight And Sound Butch,” came the response.

On his long-time colleague’s cancer battle, he said Tony had shown remarkable positivity throughout his ordeal.

Tony kept saying ‘I’m coming back, I’m coming back – I’ll be back on air’ and that’s what kept him going and kept him alive… The energy he got from talking to people and playing music. Because that was his life.

Independent broadcasters of Ireland

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), which is the representative body for Ireland’s independent radio broadcasters, offered its condolences to the family and friends of Tony Fenton.

Chairman of the IBI, John Purcell, said:

“Tony Fenton has been a consistent voice on Irish radio since he first graced the airwaves in 1979. His was a voice that many of us grew up listening to. The esteem that the radio industry held him in was evident was Tony was inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame in October of last year.”

“A great voice has been lost to Irish radio and the entire industry is deeply saddened to lose one of Ireland’s most popular and well known broadcasters, most entertaining gentlemen and most loyal friend.”

“Larger than life”

2FM released a statement from Jim Jennings, MD of RTÉ Radio:

We are deeply saddened by the news that our friend and former colleague Tony Fenton has passed away. Tony joined RTÉ 2fm in 1985 and very quickly established himself as one of the great 2fm DJ’s and a true radio pioneer. He had two very successful decades on 2fm and brought so much enthusiasm and professionalism to the station. He was a huge supporter of Irish music and new bands, and is probably best remembered for the programmes ‘Hotline’, and the Top 30 Chart Show and his catch phrase ‘You’re the Winner’.
Tony was always larger than life and the ultimate showman – he at his happiest when he was in studio when that red light went on. We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Tony’s family, friends and colleagues. He is a big loss to Irish broadcasting and will be greatly missed.

Many of those in the radio business wrote of their sadness at the news:

Fans, friends and interviewees remembered why they loved his work:

What are your memories of Tony Fenton? Share them in the comments below.

Read: DJ Tony Fenton has died at the age of 53>

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