‘It came like a bolt out of the blue’

Shaun Doherty

THE announcement that popular broadcaster Shaun Doherty is to leave Highland Radio after twenty-seven years has been met with shock and disbelief among his work colleagues and listeners this week.
The award winning Shaun Doherty Show has been Highland Radio’s flagship programme ever since he took over the mid-morning slot less than six months after the station first went on air.
A native of Stoke-on-Trent, Doherty (52) cut his teeth with pirate radio station Donegal Community Radio (DCR) before Highland secured its first broadcasting licence in 1990.
“The show is much more than current affairs and politics. He went right into people’s kitchens every morning and involved them in his conversations. This week’s news has come like a bolt out of the blue. We didn’t see it coming,” one work colleague admitted.
Shaun Doherty broke the news of his upcoming departure to his listeners at the start of his show on Tuesday morning.
“It is time for me to look for fresh challenges in my life, new opportunities,” he said.
“I will be leaving on July 14th which is two weeks this Friday. So, I wanted you as my loyal listeners to know that before you get to hear about it anywhere else.”
In a statement the station said everyone at Highland Radio were dealing with mixed emotions. “While we are delighted for Shaun to have the chance to explore new opportunities, we are very saddened to be losing a friend and colleague.
“Shaun’s contribution to Highland Radio, and the media in general, is immeasurable. He has been with the company from the very beginning and helped cement Highland Radio’s reputation as Ireland’s No1 local radio station.
“We all support Shaun in his decision and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career; there is always a place for him in Highland Radio,” the statement read.
During his time in Highland Radio, Shaun Doherty worked as Promotions Officer as well as in Sales and Marketing on top of his presenter’s role.
Over the years he led tours to Las Vegas, Nashville, across Europe as well as on a Caribbean Cruise.
“What started out as an experiment soon became an annual tour – not forgetting the concerts each year. Shaun has helped to make them the success they are today.
“Remember this was a time before Facebook and social media and these concerts and tours gave listeners the opportunity to meet Shaun Doherty in person. They all listened religiously to his show but here they were meeting him face to face,” one colleague explained.
Initially, the Shaun Doherty Show ran for two hours (9am to 11am) under producer Maureen Gibbons with a more relaxed, magazine type format.
A change is the schedule saw the show extended by an hour, allowing Shaun and his team to delve that little bit deeper behind the headlines and the issues affecting the people of Donegal and the North West.
Behind the scenes, Shaun became a director of Highland Radio at a time the station was owned by a group of local businessman that included the late Barney Doherty, Billy Patterson and Packie Keeney.
The company was subsequently purchased by Mick McGinley, a native of Dunfanaghy, then sold on to Emap and Scottish Radio Holdings before current owners, the Rabbitte family, took control in 2008. Shaun is a Director on the Highland Radio board.
In more recent times Shaun led the successful Highland Radio application process which saw them secure the broadcasting licence for another ten years – a decision which was formally announced three years ago last week.
In 2016, Shaun travelled to Africa as a volunteer with the Ray of Sunshine group, a project which he is very passionate about. He was back in Africa over the New Year on a personal visit while he is committed to returning to the continent with the Ray of Sunshine group in 2018.
“His advice is often sought from staff – both senior and less experienced members. He’s been great to us all. Shaun hasn’t made this decision lightly and I know that he has been very emotional about the whole thing.”
Fans took to social media to wish him good luck and express their sorrow to see him go.
“The reaction to the news on Facebook has been unbelievable. He has the x-factor and will be sorely missed by everyone, not least his friends and colleagues here in the station,” one source said.

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