The late Billy McCarthy has been inducted into the IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame in Dublin today.
Billy, who died after a short illness in November last, is one of four new inductees who have all made a major impact on the radio industry on the island of Ireland.
Along with Billy, the other inductees were Linda McAuley (BBC Radio Ulster), Séamus Mac Géidigh RIP (RTÉ Raidió Na Gaeltachta) and Joe King (Broadcast Technical Services Limited).
The IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame is a highly regarded accolade in the Irish industry and the four new inductees join names such as Gay Byrne, Larry Gogan, Ian Dempsey, Áine Lawlor, Candy Devine and Tony Fenton amongst others. The Hall of Fame celebrates those well-known names and those behind the mic that make Irish radio such an integral part of daily life.
Billy made a phenomenal contribution to the radio industry in Ireland, not only at board level in WLR for many years but particularly as ‘the voice of Waterford’ in his 27 years as presenter of the highly rated ‘Deise AM’. A former Director of WLR, Billy served on the board for over 10 years, during which time WLR built Ireland’s first purpose-built radio station outside of RTE in Dublin. Presenting, however, was Billy’s first and real love and it was as a current affairs broadcaster that he ranked amongst the very best. In the 10 am-12 noon weekday slot, his 'Deise AM' show was consistently the most listened to radio show in Waterford (JNLR) for a staggering 27 years, from 1989 right up to Billy’s untimely death last November.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave his first radio interview to Billy in WLR on the morning after he made controversial comments about “whingers” in his home town of Castlebar. Those comments, many feel, may have been the turning point of that election. In that interview Billy challenged the Taoiseach on his comments and the audio was used nationwide in news coverage that day. In that same interview, meanwhile, Billy received a commitment from Enda Kenny on abolition of the Broadcasting levy.
Billy's untimely death in November, at the young age of 62, sent shockwaves not only through the radio industry in Ireland but his beloved Waterford city and county. The massive outpouring of grief from listeners to WLR FM in the days after his death illustrated just how important a figure he was to many; an integral part, indeed, of the daily lives of thousands of Waterfordians. President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and political leaders of all parties sent their personal condolences on news of his death. Billy is deeply missed by his partner Des O’Keeffe, his mother Kay, his sister Celine, brothers Declan and Ronan and his extended family, relatives and many friends.
The ceremony to induct Billy this morning was attended by his partner Des O'Keeffe, the McCarthy family and his colleagues at WLR.
Sean Murtagh, Chairperson of the IMRO Radio Awards Committee said “the Hall of Fame was established to pay enduring tribute to not just the well-known Irish radio personalities but also to those who worked quietly behind the scenes helping to make Radio in Ireland great. Today’s inductees are very worthy recipients of this accolade and held in the highest regard by their peers.”
“We are delighted to induct four of the most respected radio professionals on the island of Ireland into the IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame. Each of them in their own way has made an indelible mark on the broadcasting sector and they rightfully deserve to take their place alongside the many other great Irish radio luminaries who have been honoured by their peers over the years.” Eleanor McEvoy, IMRO Chairman.
Speaking at the event, Professor Pauric Travers, Chairperson of the BAI said “since its establishment, the Hall of Fame has marked, in a meaningful and personal way, the level of esteem in which those who are honoured are held by their peers. In their various and unique ways, each inductee reminds us why it is that Irish radio continues to engage, inform and entertain listeners, reflecting their passions, interests and concerns”.