Gay Byrne will quit radio show
Gay Byrne has decided he will no longer present his radio programme, The Gay Byrne Show, from Christmas Eve this year. He will continue to present The Late Late Show.
A spokeswoman for Ms Helen Shaw, RTE's Director of Radio, said Mr Byrne's last four months on the programme, which he began presenting in 1972, would be "very special". He returns from holiday on September 2nd.
Ms Shaw said changes were being planned for Radio 1's morning schedule following his departure, but details have yet to be worked out.
Mr Byrne, who was 64 last Wednesday, will continue to work on radio projects at RTE after Christmas, although not on a regular basis.
Responding to the news last night, the current Liveline presenter, Mr Joe Duffy, who worked on The Gay Byrne Show for many years, paid tribute to his colleague. He described him as "the best producer I ever met, with the best instincts, the hardest worker I ever met, and the most generous broadcaster".
In a business which is often ego-driven and very competitive, Gay Byrne was always generous to colleagues, he said, mentioning people he had helped along the way, including Vincent Browne, Siobhan Cleary and Philip Kampf.
Mr Byrne was also "exceptionally involved almost on a daily basis" in the Gay Byrne Fund, Mr Duffy said. He hoped it would be continued and would retain the Gay Byrne name as a tribute. "People don't appreciate his inordinate interest in the fund," he said. He jokingly appealed to people: "Don't send flowers, send money to the Gay Byrne Fund instead."
He attributed Mr Byrne's planned retirement to "three reasons, Kay, Crona and Suzy", Mr Byrne's wife and two daughters. "They are making him take it easy," he said. "The brilliant thing about his retirement is that he is still in grand fettle and as fit and enthusiastic as a man half his age."
He said people at RTE should always remember Gay Byrne's bottom line, "Is it going to entertain people? Is it something the woman in Ballyfermot and the woman in Ballyhooley will listen to?" Mr Byrne is currently on holiday in Donegal.