Former Donegal journalist Barry Whyte has been elevated to the role of chief news reporter with one of Ireland’s top radio stations.
The promotion comes 14 years after Barry, whose father Brendan hails from Lifford, landed his first media job with Highland Radio.
Roles with Radio Foyle and Ocean FM followed before Newstalk offered him a role at their headquarters in the Irish capital four years ago.
There he has just been moved up to the newly created position of chief news reporter covering multiple stations within the News 106 group.
“The stations within the News 106 family include Today FM, 98FM and Spin FM 104,” Barry told the Donegal News.
“What the role means is that when a big news story breaks, as chief reporter I’ll be the one responsible for covering it. It’s what I’m doing now except on a much larger scale.
“The role is a newly invented one. I was approached by the station manager about applying, it’s not something to which I actually gave much thought to be honest. I quickly found out the reason I was encouraged was because they actually had me in mind for the role. I was told ‘It’s yours if you want it’ which was extremely flattering as it shows in how high regard the powers that be see my work. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’re valued.
“It’s a daunting prospect but doing something on this scale is everything I’ve worked hard for and I can’t wait to get started. I’ve been here four years and loved every moment of it so far. Looking back on his 14 years on the airwaves he added, “I’ve been in this profession for a while and Newstalk is a place I really love working. Don’t gets me wrong I loved working on local radio, especially starting out, mainly because local radio gives you the opportunity to learn a great deal. You make a few mistakes but you learn from them. But working for one of Ireland’s top radio stations is brilliant.”
Reflecting on his favourite stories, Barry said that while there had been a few, one sticks out in his mind.
“I remember at the height of lockdown when people weren’t allowed to travel, I heard about flights coming in from America with passengers on them. One Friday morning about 5am I took a run out to the airport not expecting anyone but sure enough, a flight from Washington DC and one from Texas came in with around 60 passengers each.
“I spent a good bit of time talking with them, some of the passengers were adamant that Covid wasn’t real. It made for a brilliant story because we weren’t allowed to go 5km from our front door yet we were allowing potentially infected people in from another country. The story got picked up by the New York Times.”
Barry added that he was excited rather than nervous about moving in to a senior role with a radio station that attracts a weekly listenership of 784,000 people.
“I don’t really get nervous. It’s something I’ve worked hard for. There are times I’ve thought ‘Is it ever gonna happen’ but it has and I’m excited about it.”