It’s been an emotional week. After making one of the biggest decisions of my life over the summer, I publicly announced last week that after 24 fantastic years working for RTÉ, I am leaving it behind to move on to an exciting new role working for the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) in Brussels.

It is not easy to make a huge career move like this in middle age but it’s been something I have been thinking about for some time.

Radio is all that I’ve known since leaving school, so this is a giant leap of faith. I feel now is the time to do something exciting like this. People change careers all the time but for me, it is a complete change of direction. And most importantly, I leave my current employers on excellent terms and I leave Countrywide in great shape.


The lockdowns and extraordinary times we have lived in over the past almost three years have given all of us time to reflect on our lives. While I have enjoyed immensely working in one of the best and most rewarding jobs in broadcasting, believe it or not, I was never comfortable in the public eye. I am quite shy despite the public persona.

I am relatively thick skinned and criticism comes with the territory but I am only human. Working in the media brings with it more scrutiny and criticism than many other professions. I have noticed over the past couple of years in particular that the criticism has become quite nasty and more personal against journalists who might offer an opinion or report a story, in other words doing our job. I’ve come off relatively unscathed compared to others but it’s a side of the business I won’t miss.

Good wishes

However, the good wishes over the past week from the people that matter, our listeners, have been extraordinarily humbling. I’m eternally grateful to those hundreds of strangers who have wished me well on the likes of Twitter and Facebook and through texts and letters. Many careers in the public eye in politics, sport or indeed public service broadcasting, often end in tears. I was determined I would pick the right moment to move on. And that moment is now.

There are few big opportunities in broadcasting outside RTÉ. But I am delighted to be staying among the broad agriculture family. Of course, I needed many things to fall into place before making this decision. My children are old enough now at almost 21 and 17 and those close to me like Gina and my family and my close friends have been selfless in encouraging me to do it. So with the children at a good age, the programme having a record listenership (with a prestigious IMRO award to top off a successful year), the opportunity to work with a wonderful organisation like ICOS in an exciting city, it is like all the stars aligning to allow for a smooth transition.

Wonderful colleagues

I leave behind the most wonderful group of colleagues. Public service broadcasting is more important now than ever. RTÉ radio is among the best in the world at what it does. Of course I’ll miss the buzz of making programmes, crafting reports and engaging in lively debates. But I have had a great run at it and I think that, for now, I have come to a natural end in that regard.

Philip Boucher Hayes is a superb appointment to succeed me in the Countrywide chair. Now it’s his turn to set the alarm clock for 5am every Saturday morning!

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