Tony Fenton RIP
Remembering the Today FM DJ who died yesterday
One of the reasons why it’s so hard to believe that Tony Fenton is gone is because he was larger than life. On radio, be it initially on 2fm or on Today FM in later years, he dominated the airwaves with the kind of aplomb and panache absolutely no-one else could get away with because no-one else would have the neck to try it. Tony had a style and a vibe which was all his own. As a student of the radio game, he knew who the masters were and he had a similar style, a similar blur, a similar sense that sitting in front of a live microphone and playing music and talking about stuff was really the ultimate gas to be had in life. There was nowhere else he’d prefer to be. Larger than life with a voice and persona to match. Indeed, like Leonard Cohen in “Tower Of Song”, he was born with the gift of a golden voice.
It’s worth remembering that he was a huge music fan. There’s often a feeling that daytime radio DJs play to their playlist, collect the cheque and go home to mow the lawn. Some certainly do, but that wasn’t Tony. Probably not the lawn anyway, but definitely not the easy option of sticking to the tried and tested playlist. Time and time again in the last few years, he’d ask folks about this new tune or that new act and those selections would turn up in his Daily Download slot or somewhere else on the show. He was definitely and truly in the music game, Tony, and artists from right across the spectrum really responded to that.
Back in August 2013, I did a Banter interview with him and it was a fantastic aul’ rattle. He remembered the old days and the current times of Anthony Fagan, the ups and the downs (a lot of both in his life), the high jinks and setbacks (ditto). He talked a lot about Gerry Ryan that night too and patiently answered every question the audience posed as well. Afterwards, there was a firm handshake and he was gone off into the night.
It’s one of those interviews I wish we’d recorded, but you always thought there would be other times for that. After all, he was back in the saddle after serious cancer treatment and looking and sounding well. You reckon he’d that evil illness well and truly licked from how he was projecting such vibrancy and enthusiasm. But sadly, the cancer returned and we know the rest of it. A horrible business.
It goes without saying that he’s totally and utterly irreplaceable. You can’t imagine anyone else getting it on in that unique way of his or, moreover, getting away with it. Deepest condolences to his family and especially his colleagues at Today FM. A dude from head to toe, we’ll miss him loads.