‘I love him deeply’ – Joe Duffy speaks of affection for Gay Byrne as he says legendary broadcaster still texts him about Liveline

JOE Duffy has opened up about his fondness for Gay Byrne, as he revealed that the legendary broadcaster “can’t get out as much anymore”.

Almost three decades after Byrne saw potential in Duffy – who was then a researcher for Pat Kenny – and poached him as a reporter, the radio host says he has remained close to his former mentor.

The 85-year-old, he said, still texts him constructive criticism about his radio show.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Gay, end of,” he said.

“My first day on air, he told me: ‘Chat like it’s just you and me, with the banter we have.’ We still have that banter – he still texts me while I’m on Liveline letting me know I’m talking too fast, too slow or I’m interrupting too much.

“He loves airline magazines so I buy them for him because he can’t get out as much anymore.

“I love him deeply and his family, they’ve been very good to us.”

Mr Duffy, who didn’t get into broadcasting until he was in his 30s, now hosts Liveline on RTÉ Radio. Despite his reputation, the 63-year-old says he’s aware of the fragility of his position as a radio host. 

Duffy admitted that the fact that he is in vogue can’t last forever. However, he said that while it does last, he will enjoy it.

Despite criticism around the pay of RTÉ programme hosts, Duffy said that he could make more money elsewhere, but that he enjoys feeling like he is making some difference. He was paid €416,893 last year.

“It’s not for me to justify,” he said in the latest issue of the RTÉ Guide. 

“It was negotiated on my behalf. I’ve had better offers from outside, I can tell you. I’m well paid, I know that. But I do believe in public service (broadcasting) and I really believe in Liveline and what we do.

“The reason RTÉ have given me a contract like this is that they want to be able to get rid of me tomorrow if needs be, if they decide I’m not flavour of the month.

“I know if RTÉ drop me in the morning, I’m gone. There wouldn’t be any pickets on the gates. I’m not a firefighter, I’m not a nurse, we don’t save lives. I think we enhance lives.”

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