Four new inductees for the IMRO Radio Awards Hall of Fame

The IMRO Radio Awards Committee is bringing in four new members into its Hall of Fame.

They are John Bennett MBE from BBC Radio Ulster, Joe Finnegan from Shannonside Northern Sound, Paddy Halpenny, formerly of Communicorp, and Mary Wilson from RTÉ Radio 1.

They’ll be officially inducted at an event taking place in Dublin this Wednesday, 13th September.

John Bennett, MBE, joined the BBC in 1956 and has presented music, entertainment, sports, and current affairs programmes for close to seven decades.

He launched BBC Radio Ulster, with Gloria Hunniford, on New Year’s Eve in 1973 and presented the station’s morning show for 10 years from 1993 to 2003. In January this year, John was awarded an MBE by King Charles III in his inaugural New Year Honours list for services to Television and Radio Broadcasting.

Joe Finnegan has worked for over 34 years as a current affairs presenter, journalist, director, and station manager at Shannonside Northern Sound. He started his career in radio in the mid-1980s, and in 1989, he was instrumental in the setup of the station that was Shannonside and was one of its shareholders. Joe was the first voice heard on Shannonside Radio, covering counties Longford, Roscommon, and South Leitrim. In 1995, Shannonside and Northern Sound’s licences were combined to create the first regional station in Ireland, which broadcasts to five counties in three provinces.

Following Radio Kerry’s acquisition of Shannonside Northern Sound in 2006, Joe oversaw the transition before stepping down from his role as Programme Controller in 2008. Joe continued to present the JF Show and work with the new management.

Patrick (Paddy) Halpenny, AKA ‘the General,’ was Chief Executive of Communicorp from 1997 to 2013. When he joined Communicorp, it consisted of 98FM in Dublin and Kiss in Prague. During the next fifteen years, Communicorp grew to a portfolio of 42 stations in 9 countries.

Communicorp owned and operated two Irish national stations, two local stations in Dublin and one regional youth station. It became an international radio operator with stations from Dublin to Tallinn, Budapest to Helsinki and Sofia to Kyiv.

Mary Wilson hails from Drangan in South Tipperary and joined RTÉ’s local radio service in Cork in 1989 after a career in provincial journalism and PR.

Mary later moved to the RTÉ Dublin Newsroom in 1990 to work as a reporter on Morning Ireland and later worked in all areas of radio and TV news as a correspondent, editor and presenter.

Mary was the station’s legal affairs correspondent and editor for ten years, 1996-2006 before hosting Drivetime for 14 years. In 2020 she returned to Morning Ireland.

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