Ian Dempsey

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Ian Dempsey
Ian Dempsey
Born Ian Michael Dempsey
(1961-01-16) 16 January 1961 (age 53)
Nationality Irish
Occupation Broadcaster
Employer Today FM, RTE (1980-1998)
Known for Children's television, breakfast radio show

Ian Michael Dempsey (born 16 January 1961) is an Irish presenter of television and breakfast radio. He is the long-running presenter of the breakfast show on Today FM, self-titled The Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show, which runs from 7-9am each weekday. 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]

On 9 June 2010, he co-hosted the opening ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games Irish heats at Thomond Park with Des Cahill.[3]

Early life[edit]

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.



In 1980 he joined the national broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann, to present The Weekend Breakfast Show on RTÉ 2fm, and later, shows such as Poparama, The Hotline, Night Train and The Great Giveaway Show. Dempsey later hosted the lunchtime show before moving to the breakfast slot in the mid-1980s. 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. Maxi was placed on the breakfast show at that time but after a few weeks it was apparent to all that her style not suited to the format; Dempsey was promptly reinstated.

1986 saw Dempsey's first major exposure to television, with the 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 RTÉ documentary.[4] He also worked on various TV shows including the pop music quiz show Number 1 and three seasons of The Beatbox, a two-hour music video show simulcast on Network 2 and RTÉ 2fm. He was also the first host of the Irish version of Talkabout.[5]

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 RTÉ 2fm breakfast. His style was informal and relaxed. His rapport with Des Cahill was particularly strong. John Clarke, later head of RTÉ 2fm, produced the show and occasionally deputized.

Today FM[edit]

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. He left RTÉ for Today FM in July 1998 and since late September 1998 (when his breakfast show was launched) he has worked at the station with his Gift Grub team providing comedic value. 2fm have struggled to find a suitable replacement ever since, and until December 2013 were trying out Hector Ó hEochagáin in a bid to rival Dempsey. 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 RTÉ. 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.

Dempsey appeared on The Restaurant where he bamboozled the critics with his Mini Bloody Mary Burgers, JFK's Lidded Lobster Soup, Swedish Meatballs, Tagliatelle with Lightly Curried Prawns, Deeply Bitter Chocolate Mousse and a dish he called "The Bomb".[6][7]

As of January 2012, in a case of rather unfortunate timing due to the Costa Concordia disaster, Dempsey appears in a TV ad campaign promoting American Holidays'[8] Royal Caribbean cruises[9]

Ever notice how we don't hear much about growth these days? Well here in American Holidays they'll tell you about one holiday experience that has more than DOUBLED in the last three years! And that's cruise holidays. Why? Because people didn't fully understand the incredible experience a cruise holiday delivers!

—Ian Dempsey, American Holidays television advertisement aired on TV3 (Ireland) January, February 2012

Personal life[edit]

Dempsey lives in Sutton, in north County Dublin. He is married to Ger and has three children - Shane, Evan and Aislinn.[10] Evan, is a member of the band The Kapitals who have played the Oxegen Festival twice.


Dempsey was nominated in the category of Best Radio DJ - National at the 2010 Meteor Awards.[11]

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


  1. ^ "National DJ nominations". Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  2. ^ "RTÉ's grip on top 10 loosens as second Today FM show makes list". The Irish Times. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "Limerick prepares to host Special Olympics". RTÉ. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  4. ^ Neville, Sarah (21 October 2008). "Zig and Zag return to TV for 21st anniversary". Evening Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "TV Listings: RTÉ One". RTÉ One. 26 January 1991. Retrieved 26 January 1991. 
  6. ^ "Ian Dempsey". The Restaurant. 
  7. ^ "Ian Dempsey's Menu". The Restaurant. 
  8. ^ http://www.americanholidays.com/cruises
  9. ^ http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk
  10. ^ http://www.irishexaminer.com/weekend/features/a-gift-for-radio-147066.html
  11. ^ "Meteor Ireland Awards Nominees". RTÉ. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 

External links[edit]