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Ian Dempsey

Ian Dempsey
Born 16 January 1961
Nationality Irish
Occupation Presenter
Employer Today FM
Known for Children's television presenting and breakfast radio show
The Breakfast Show

Ian Michael Dempsey (born 16 January 1961) is a popular Irish television and breakfast radio presenter. He is the current presenter of Ireland's Today FM's radio breakfast show, self-titled The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show, which runs from 07:00 - 09:00 each weekday morning. He has won several major awards for his programmes[1] and remains one of the most popular broadcasters in Ireland, placing 10th in 2007.[2]




Early career

Dempsey began his first experiments in radio in 1967 when at the age of six he made his first radio show in a friend's house. In 1978 he joined Dublin pirate station Capitol Radio, and later worked for Alternative Radio Dublin and Radio 257...

RT√Č 2fm and Dempsey's Den

In 1980 he joined the national broadcaster RT√Č, to present The Weekend Breakfast Show, and later, shows such as Poparama, The Hotline, Night Train and The Great Giveaway Show. Dempsey later hosted the lunchtime show before moving to Breakfast in the mid 80's. He picked up where Marty Whelan had left off engaging the audience with his natural personality, a world apart from the 'jocks' that stalked the radio centre at the time. Apart from a brief time off breakfast following 2Fm's 1989 relaunch, he has remained on early mornings since. At that time Maxi was placed on breakfast and after a few weeks it was apparent to all that her style not suited to the format. Dempsey was reinstated.

1986 saw Dempsey's first major exposure to television, with the now infamous children's show Dempsey's Den, which also gave the alien twin puppets Zig and Zag their first break to the small screen. Noted for his choice of brightly-coloured jumpers, Dempsey presented The Den until the summer of 1990 and later reflected on his time at the helm in a 2008 RT√Č documentary.[3] He also worked on various TV shows including the pop music quiz show Number 1 and three seasons of The Beat Box, a two-hour music video show simulcast on Network 2 and RT√Č 2FM. He was also the first host of the Irish version of Talkabout [4].

Dempsey (centre) in his prime on Dempsey's Den with Zig and Zag.

Dempsey weathered the storm of the advent of independent radio in Ireland on 2Fm breakfast. His style was informal and relaxed. His rapport with Des Cahill was particularly strong. John Clarke, now head of 2FM, produced the show and occasionally deputized.

Move to Today FM

Dempsey shocked the Irish radio world in 1998 by announcing a move to the newly relaunched Today FM. He had been tempted by a sizable salary package to join the station that 12 months beforehand had languished with a minimal JNLR result. Since September 1998 he has worked at the station with his Gift Grub team providing comedic value. 2FM have struggled to find a suitable replacement ever since. When the move was announced he was refused entry to the Montrose campus and publicly complained that over 20,000 albums of his were not returned to him by RT√Č. In recent years it has been widely reported that 2FM have tried to tempt him back. In 2007 Dempsey started presenting an online radio show for Irish people abroad called The Craic freely downloadable from

Personal life

Dempsey is a huge fan of David Bowie and met him for the first time in 2003. His favourite song is "Heroes" by Bowie. Dempsey's biggest thrill was interviewing Bruce Springsteen in Berlin, whilst his tour manager looked on, horrified that he had obtained the interview without her consent.[5] Dempsey's favourite television shows include The Panel, Love Is the Drug and Prime Time Investigates; he also loves Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's shows and watches Curb Your Enthusiasm on TG4. His preferred radio shows are The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM, Liveline with Joe Duffy on RT√Č Radio 1 and Se√°n Moncrieff on Newstalk. His favourite restaurant is The Unicorn but he also likes Shanahan's on St Stephen's Green and Casa Pasta in Howth, Dublin. He has been going to Portugal every year since 1990.

Dempsey is a founding member of the RT√Č Sports Club and the Wednesday Club. He achieved a birdie in Sutton Golf Club in 2004. He supports Chelsea F.C., receiving a team kit with Ian Hutchinson's number 10 on the back as a 10th birthday present. He admires Denis O'Brien, because "he's restless and always seems to be making a clever move". He said his best business decision was moving to Today FM.[6]


Meteor Awards

Dempsey was nominated in the category of Best Radio DJ - National at the 2010 Meteor Awards.[7]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2010 Ian Dempsey Best Radio DJ - National Nominated


External links


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