'American audiences love my Irish accent on radio'

Working Abroad: Dave O’Connor, radio host on U93 Radio, Indiana

Dave O’Connor: ‘My daily radio show on U93 Radio has become a huge success in such a short time.’

Dave O’Connor: ‘My daily radio show on U93 Radio has become a huge success in such a short time.’

 

As a young boy growing up in Shankill in Dublin I always had a love for listening to radio. Little did I know my passion for radio would turn into a career in broadcasting.

My first job aged 15 was with East Coast Radio in Bray. My most successful job though on Irish radio was hosting the morning show for iRadio. As much as I loved the Irish audience, I always felt a calling and belonging to the US, but I by no means took a direct route.

In November 2013 I was offered a one-year contract in Thailand working for an English-speaking media company. That was a year I’ll never forget. But the military coup in 2014 soon had me looking towards my dream of working in the US.

I was offered a job in Nebraska as a radio host, and applied for my O-1 Visa. They’re so difficult to get but once you do, life is plain sailing here in the US. After only six months in Nebraska I got offered a bigger job in South Bend in Indiana, a place most famous for being the home of the University of Notre Dame.

I love it here, and as much as I miss my family back in Ireland, I really do feel at home in the US.

Irish Dave

Life isn’t always easy though. Little things you take for granted such as bank accounts, driver’s licenses, and having a family member to lend you a few bob all become much bigger challenges, and you only realise how much you depended on loved ones when you’re 5,000 miles (or 8,000km) away.

My daily radio show on U93 Radio has become a huge success in such a short time. American audiences have welcomed my Irish accent and personality with open arms. There is so much love for the Irish, so much interest in our home country. But the all too often question is, “wait, why don’t you have red hair?”

My biggest challenge since moving away from home came in 2015, when my cousin Elton and my aunt Joan both died of cancer within weeks of each other. To feel so far away, to feel so helpless, and to be alone in a far away land during these times, is the most testing of all.

You choose a life that you know in your heart is the right one for you, but knowing that at the same time you’re causing pain to your family because of how much they miss you, makes it the most gut-wrenching decision to make.

Most people around the world don’t know this, but the Midwest area of the US is built on wonderful people who are so willing to help strangers, to extend welcomes, and to offer a listening ear to an often lonely immigrant far from his Irish mammy.

I came here because the US is the land of opportunity, and I love it. My heart will always belong to Ireland but my love for now is here in the US.

I’m planning my first trip home in a few months since arriving here in October 2014, and it sounds weird but I’m nervous. The longer I leave it, the harder it seems to be. But I think it’s about time I got onto the Aer Lingus website, and stop leaving my poor mammy in suspense.

Dave O’Connor (aka Irish Dave) can be found at @iamirishdave on Twitter and Instagram. iamirishdave.com

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