Dave Fanning

Dave Fanning (born David Fanning; 30 December 1955) is an Irish rock journalist, DJ, film critic and broadcaster. Fanning currently hosts The 11th Hour on RTÉ Two and two radio shows: Drivetime with Dave on RTÉ Radio 1 and The Dave Fanning Show on RTÉ 2fm. He also fills in for other presenters on RTÉ Radio,[1] including acting as a surrogate for Ryan Tubridy in June 2009 and July 2017.[2] Likewise, John Creedon has worked as a surrogate for Fanning.[3]

David Fanning
Dave Fanning at 2015 Web Summit Music Stage
David Fanning

(1955-12-30) 30 December 1955
Dublin, Ireland
EducationEnglish and Philosophy degree/Higher Diploma in Education
Alma materUniversity College, Dublin
OccupationRadio and television presenter
EmployerRaidió Teilifís Éireann
Known forMusic industry work, friendship with U2, Fanning's Fab 50

Due to his much celebrated friendship with U2, Fanning has for three decades been granted the first airing of any of the band's new singles before anyone else in the world,[4] with band members often calling Fanning to tell him what they are doing.[5] He has presented more than twenty different series for RTÉ Television, including 2TV, The Movie Show and documentaries on Cambodia and Ethiopia. He also hosted RTÉ's live television coverage of Live 8 in Hyde Park, London (July 2005), and Live Earth in Wembley Stadium, London (July 2007). He claims to have conducted around 200 interviews with global rock stars.[6]

Fanning is the receiver of several awards and nominations, the first of which was a Jacob's Award in 1980. He won numerous IRMA awards and has won Best DJ at the Meteor Music Awards a total of three times, and been nominated at least twice more in 2008 and 2009, this after being granted the Industry Award in 2004.

Hot Press regards Fanning as "one of the most familiar faces and voices in Irish broadcasting".[7] Rob Sharp of UK newspaper The Independent has referred to him as a "legendary Irish DJ".[8] BP Fallon commented in 2008: "Without Dave Fanning on the radio, music in Ireland would have had a poorer face. Dave changed things, opened up ears".[9] The Sunday Tribune's Eithne Tynan has defined his style as a "thousand words a minute, start a whole new sentence before you've finished the previous one".[10] Fanning is parodied by Oliver Callan.[11]

Early and private life

Born in Dublin, Fanning was educated at Blackrock College,[12] graduating from University College, Dublin (U.C.D.), with a degree in English and Philosophy and a Higher Diploma in Education. That same year Dave took over as editor of Ireland's only rock magazine (Scene) and began working as a DJ on the fledgling pirate radio station, Radio Dublin, in 1977. Dave then moved to Big D when it was formed by Radio Dublin deejays in 1978. On both pirates, he presented rock shows. He continued with that format when he made the move to legal radio in 1979.

Fanning has always supported young, new Irish talent; he played their demo tapes and gave them radio sessions. His very first session in RTÉ Radio 2 (RTÉ 2fm) was with a young four-piece Dublin band called U2 and his friendship with, and support for, the band, led to Fanning's listeners deciding on the A-side and B-sides of the band's first single release. (This was in the pre-CD days, when singles were only released on vinyl). The band came into Fanning's show for five nights in one week and the listeners picked "Out of Control" as the first single, with "Stories for Boys" and "Boy/Girl" on the B-side.

Fanning's friendship with the band has continued. At a surprise birthday party, held at Dublin's Mother Redcaps in 1989 all four members of U2 paid tribute to Fanning; the band's manager Paul McGuinness presented him with a special present referring to Fanning as "the world's best DJ". Besides being guaranteed the world exclusive on all U2 releases, the band recorded a specially-filmed musical tribute to Fanning when he was presented, in 2004 (by Larry Mullen) with the Irish Music Industry's top award – The Meteor Industry Award.[13]

Fanning's wife, Ursula, was a researcher for Gay Byrne on The Late Late Show.[14] Musically he is a fan of Bob Dylan, whom he describes as his God, although he dislikes his live performances.[2]

He met Gerry Ryan around 1978 while both were working in Dublin pirate radio station "Big D", sharing the common bond of both having attended college, though at separate colleges.[14] Fanning claims they met at work daily between 1980 and 1999.[14] Their friendship led them to socialise and holiday together, while the Fannings even moved in with the Ryans for a time in September 1995 when the Fanning house was under construction.[14]


Fanning has written for Hot Press and The Irish Times, presented The Movie Show and been a disc jockey for RTÉ 2fm since it began in 1979.[15] During the 1990s he worked for RTÉ, Virgin Radio and had four television shows at one point, one of which was The Movie Show.[15]


Fanning featured on Ireland's first official national pop music station, RTÉ Radio 2 (now referred to as RTÉ 2fm), which was launched in the summer of 1979. He began presenting each Sunday at midnight, a role he would return to in 2008.[16] His live sessions, conducted with the assistance of producer Ian Wilson, helped establish him on The Rock Show.[17] However, Joe MacNamee has written in the Irish Examiner that Wilson was "the musical heart, soul and brains" of Fanning's success.[18][19] By the early 1980s, Fanning was seen by the industry and music fans everywhere as Ireland's answer to John Peel, BBC Radio 1 presenter. Alongside Larry Gogan, he is one of only two of the original disc jockeys to make it as far as the station's thirtieth anniversary in 2009.[2]

In 1994 Richard Branson invited Fanning to join his new station Virgin Radio. Fanning presented his own show there every week for two years.

Hot Press summed up Fanning's career in their yearbook. "When Billboard magazine referred to the introduction of RTÉ 2fm as one of the major factors behind the growth of Ireland as a major music centre, they really meant Dave Fanning". Fanning has been described as "the ultimate fan, who through broadcasting has been able to make a career out of his many passions in life – chiefly, music and movies. He currently presents a music-only programme every Sunday night on RTÉ 2fm and he fronts a magazine-style programme on RTÉ Radio 1 from Monday to Friday at 19:00. It is called The Dave Fanning Show.

Fanning's first major award was a Jacob's Award in 1980, awarded for "the depth and scope" of his radio show. He won numerous IRMA awards and has won the Meteor Best DJ Award a total of three times, also being nominated most recently in 2008.

An August 2004 edition of The Dave Fanning Show led to a Belfast-based company called Premier Leisure Promotions being forced out of business by what it called a "mad panic" in the midst of complaints about it from listeners.[20]

A January 2009 edition of the radio show in which Fanning "skidded recklessly into a debate about the existence of God" was described by the Sunday Tribune's Eithne Tynan as "crashing headfirst, inevitably, into low comedy" and "a blast" when compared to how the show is "usually the radio equivalent of a conversation about the weather".[21]

In August 2009, after spending some time presenting on RTÉ Radio 1, it was announced that Fanning would be returning to RTÉ 2fm to present his evening weekday show in his old 19:00 slot.[22][23] The return followed the failure by RTÉ 2fm in its attempts to target teenagers.[24] Fanning claimed:

In fact I so never moved that instead I brought the four people who were working with me for Radio One and their desks into 2FM! I never went over to Radio One, I did all my programmes from 2FM, I never moved. I was also doing 2FM every Sunday so I never left at all so I'm just back to my spiritual home Monday to Friday.[22]

On 16 January 2014, Fanning caused controversy when he announced the “first-time play” of new U2 single "Invisible" live on The Dave Fanning Show on RTÉ 2fm. Instead, twice airing a 2012-release "Bad Machine" from alternative rock band Dark Stares, the broadcast caused confusion and debate in U2 fan-forums.[25] Several media outlets also reported on the situation, namely Hot Press and radio broadcaster Alan Cross.[26][27] Fanning said of the song:

Just a blast. A brand new, first-time play which is from U2. It's called 'Invisible,' that's brand new from U2.[26]

Cited by the Irish Independent as the "best friend" of Bono and with over a 33-year history of U2 exclusives,[28] Fanning later hinted that he was partially behind the hoax, saying "We did point out that it was a spoof," when interviewed by The Sunday Times.[29] To date, neither U2 or Dark Stares have officially commented on their respective knowledge or involvement in the stunt.

During an interview with the Beatles' official biographer Hunter Davies in 2017, Fanning said that, during his 40-year career, Strawberry Fields Forever was "the best song I've ever heard in my entire life".[30]

Fab Fifty

Each year since 1980 Fanning has had an annual alternative music poll called Fanning's Fab Fifty on his radio show.[31] This is decided by a poll of the general public and, since the advent of internet voting, surfers select their own favourite three pieces of music online.[31] U2 top the poll on a regular basis.[32][33]

In 2005, Fanning released an Irish-only triple album, Fanning's Fab 50 Vol 1. Sales for this compilation album reached 1.5 times platinum. Fanning's Fab 50 Vol 2 was released for the Christmas market in 2006,[34] also going platinum. Fanning's Fab 50 Vol 3 was released in 2007.[35] It includes music pieces by U2, The Killers, R.E.M., Radiohead, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Massive Attack, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Coldplay, Sigur Rós, New Order, Blur, The Verve, Ryan Adams, The Stone Roses, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Oasis and over thirty others.

Television work

Over the past few decades Fanning has fronted over 20 television programmes for Ireland's national television station, RTÉ. He has been the subject of various television specials and besides presenting various music shows, both live and recorded, he has presented political TV documentaries from Cambodia and Ethiopia. Throughout the 1990s, Fanning presented over four hundred editions of The Movie Show, crossing the globe for one-on-one interviews with movie stars. He also researched, wrote and presented over 150 rock star interview shows (Fanning Profiles, Music Express, Planet Rock Profiles).

In the early 1990s, Fanning presented live music shows on Britain's Channel 4 (Rocksteady, Friday at The Dome, Return to The Dome) and, for its first three years, Fanning was a member of the panel for the Mercury Music Prize.

He began presenting The Movie Show for RTÉ in 1993; the last episode aired in September 2001.[36] He also did a programme called Music Zone for the station; it aired on Friday nights.[36]

In 2004, Fanning caused controversy when he chose to become a judge on television talent show You're a Star, to choose that year's act to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. He explained his decision:

It’s indefensible. I just can’t defend this at all. It’s Eurovision for God’s sake. It’s all shite, everyone knows that. But I just don't care. I'm doing it for a laugh. Of course I'm going to get people slagging me off, but I'm used to all that. [...] I just thought, why not do it?" he says. "I've done everything else at this stage, including the Mercury Music Prize, IMRO Showcases and battle of the bands contests up and down the country. When I did 2TV from 1995 until 2000 I presided over the worst five years in 50 years of pop music history. It was all Boyzone videos and I'd slag them all to death. Then they'd be in with me the next week and I'd say 'lads, you're brilliant – three number ones in a row, well done'. I actually like Ronan and I like Keith as people, but I don't like their music. Everyone knows that.[37]

Indeed, Fanning helped both Keith and Ronan celebrate their weddings at Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, in 1998.[38]

During the 2000s, Fanning presented the independently produced The Last Broadcast, which initially aired on Friday nights and was ninety minutes in length.[39] The title came from the Doves album of the same name.[39] By 2007, and towards its conclusion, the show aired on Wednesday nights.[40]

In 2006, he began a new interview television series in the United States.[34]

On 1 November 2007, his 14-week music interview television series of musical interviews, Talks with Fanning, was first broadcast on Sky Arts.[6] He interviewed New Order for the first episode.[6] Other episodes featured artists such as Beck, The Flaming Lips, Pet Shop Boys and PJ Harvey.[6]

On 11 March 2009, he began presenting The 11th Hour.[2][41] The first episode featured an interview with Bruce Springsteen and music from Bell X1, Franz Ferdinand and U2.[41] A second series followed later in the year, with the first episode on The Beatles described as "superb" by Hilary Fannin, reviewer with The Irish Times.[42]

On 26 August 2009, Radiohead: The Dave Fanning Interview aired on Sky Arts 1.[8]

Journalism and other work

Between '83 and '93 Fanning was music critic for The Irish Times and has written many articles for publication at home and abroad. He was movie critic for the Sunday World from '97 to '04. He has also written for the Evening Herald.[2]

He attended the Childline Time Together celebrity breakfast, a charity function held at Dublin's Berkeley Court Hotel in aid of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's ChildLine charity, in November 2001.[43]

In March 2002, he was a member of the judging panel to decide the Jameson Student Film Award for that year.[44]

Fanning was one of the signatories of an anti-war petition which was handed into Dáil Éireann by Hot Press's Olaf Tyaransen in June 2004.[45]

In 2009, he hosted the 10th Kerry Film Festival in Tralee.[46]

HarperCollins published Fanning's autobiography The Thing Is in September 2010.[47][48]

Fanning criticised the MTV EMAs when they were held in Belfast in 2011, describing them as "worthless" and "all for marketing".[49]


Fanning received the Industry Award at the 2004 Meteor Awards.[50]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004Dave FanningIndustry AwardWon


  1. Eoghan Morrissey (12 July 2009). "Here comes the sun, there goes RTE..." Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  2. Dave Fanning (29 May 2009). "Celebrity Diary: Dave Fanning". Evening Herald. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  3. Eithne Tynan (22 March 2009). "Radio Review, Eithne Tynan – It would make you want to spend a fortune on plastic crap..." Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  4. "World premiere for new U2 on RTÉ 2fm". RTÉ. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  5. "U2 and Jay-Z record song for Haiti". BBC. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  6. "Dave Fanning to present new show on Sky". Hot Press. 12 October 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2009. I've done close to 200 interviews for different TV series in the past with the biggest rock stars on the planet, but in terms of production and quality-end product in general, this one is a serious cut above all the others.
  7. Olaf Tyaransen. "Dave Fanning". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  8. Rob Sharp (27 August 2009). "Last Night's Television: Radiohead: The Dave Fanning Interview, Sky Arts 1". The Independent. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  9. Padraig Kenny (23 November 2008). "Airwaves To Heaven". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  10. Eithne Tynan (14 December 2008). "Radio Review, Eithne Tynan – He doesn't just dress like your grandad, he acts like him too..." Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  11. "Gift Grub stars in stand-up row over new CD money". Irish Examiner. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  12. Louise Holden (8 December 2009). "'A celebration of difference united behind a humbling credo'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Comment from Fanning: "There were friends all around me throughout my medical life who shared the formation that was Blackrock. The pride in our traditions and accomplishments binds us all and accompanied us through our professional lives. How can we doctors thank you enough, gentle mother?" Comment from fellow student Ryan Tubridy: "Late 1960s at Blackrock College: the journalist (Bill Graham), the rock-star big-mouth humanitarian (Bob Smeldof) and the DJ (Fave Danning). Was there something in the water in Williamstown? No. Everything was in the music.”
  13. "2004 Meteor Ireland Music Awards: Industry Award". Meteor website: Past winners. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  14. Dave Fanning (6 May 2010). "Dave Fanning: I know there'll never be another like Gerry Ryan". The Herald. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  15. "At Home With...Dave Fanning". Hot Press. 19 April 2006. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  16. "Fanning returns to midnight slot". Hot Press. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Meanwhile Dave Fanning returns to midnight, where he started, on Sunday nights. "He'll do what he does like nobody else," a 2fm spokesperson said, "playing quality music that pays no attention to fashion, fads, trends or this week's big thing!"
  17. "Those who called the tune in Irish music during 2005". Irish Examiner. 4 January 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  18. Joe McNamee (5 January 2006). "Hats off to Dineen and David Kitt, but no mention for Dave Fanning". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  19. "Waterford duo in line for music awards". Waterford News & Star. 13 January 2006. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  20. Eddie Cassidy (5 August 2004). "Firm in row over foreign holiday packages". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  21. Eithne Tynan (18 January 2009). "Radio Review, Eithne Tynan – Fanning hosts a godfight, while in Tokyo it's 'in dog we trust'". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  22. "Fanning moves back to 2FM". RTÉ. 18 August 2009. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  23. "Fanning moves back to 2fm". Hot Press. 17 August 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  24. Stephen O'Farrell and Laura Noonan (18 August 2009). "Why Miriam is primed to do more on radio". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  25. "DAVE FANNING DIDN'T PLAY NEW U2 TODAY, HE PLAYED DARK STARES". @U2. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  26. "Dave Fanning 'first time play from U2' turns out not to be them". Hot Press. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  27. "Irish DJ Duped into Thinking He Played a New U2 Song". A Journal of Musical Things. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  28. "Bono's best friend Dave Fanning lands exclusive". Irish Independent. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  29. "Mysterious ways of Dave Fanning hoax". The Sunday Times. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  30. Fanning, Dave (16 July 2017). "Hunter Davies interview". Dave Fanning Show. RTÉ 2fm. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  31. "Fanning's Fab 50 – vote now for a chance to win music". Hot Press. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  32. "U2 hit is still the One to top Dave's Fab 50". Evening Herald. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  33. "U2's 'One' Tops Fanning's Fab 50". Hot Press. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  34. "My 2006 by Dave Fanning". Hot Press. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  35. "Dave Fanning's Fab 50 ::: Volume 3". Rollerskate Skinny website. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  36. Conor Keane (3 December 2001). "RTE to axe O'Leary talk show at end of January in attempt to cut costs". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 30 December 2004. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  37. Colm O'Hare (13 October 2004). "You're A Star – Fanning fights back". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  38. Niall Murray (4 July 1998). "Ronan and Keith join forces to party". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  39. "Fanning returns to TV". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  40. "Stars come out for Fanning". Hot Press. 13 November 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Hot Press has been making sure to get home early from the pub on Wednesdays to catch the latest and, we reckon, best series of Dave Fanning's The Last Broadcast yet
  41. "Bruce Springsteen and more for Fanning's 11th Hour". Hot Press. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  42. Hilary Fannin (17 October 2009). "Get back: The Beatles v Frank Hall in Fanning's Fab Four fandango". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 December 2009. Dave Fanning is back on the box with a new series of the superb The Eleventh Hour, kicking off with a two-part special on The Beatles, who are draped all over the cooler end of the box these days, given that Abbey Road was number one in the album charts pretty much all over the world exactly 40 years ago.
  43. Seán McCárthaigh (26 November 2001). "Beppe munches cereal for charity". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  44. "Student duo star as Smalltalk makes it big with up-and-comers film award". Irish Examiner. 12 March 2002. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  45. "Anti-war petition submitted". Irish Examiner. 25 June 2004. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  46. Simon Brouder (11 November 2009). "Stars descend for Film Festival". The Kerryman'. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  47. "Dave The Rave meets the Prince of Darkness". Irish Independent. 7 August 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  48. "Review: The Thing Is... by Dave Fanning". Irish Independent. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  49. Melanie Finn (5 November 2011). "'Worthless' MTV awards a marketing gimmick, says Fanning". Evening Herald. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  50. Wayne Cronin (2 March 2004). "Stars come out in force for Meteor awards". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
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