Belfast Telegraph

Johnny Hero quits Downtown: I couldn’t stick it any more

Former Downtown Radio DJ Johnny Hero has accused station management of failing to support him and two colleagues after their boat sank during a charity fund-raiser earlier this year.

The popular broadcaster — who is jumping ship from Downtown to U105 — said the incident had left him traumatised, but claimed that his request for counselling had been turned down.

And in a bitter parting shot Hero, who’s real name is Johnny Cullen, said Downtown had lost its local identity and that management was out of touch with what listeners wanted.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph shortly after handing in his notice Hero, who has worked for Downtown for 20 years, said he was “gutted” to be leaving the company he regarded as a second family.

“I really wish it hadn’t come to this as I’ve loved working here and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best names in the business,” he said.

“But it got to the point where I just couldn’t stick it any more. The boat incident was just too much, it left a very bitter taste in my mouth.”

In June this year Hero was on board an Ocean Youth Trust boat, with presenters Dougi Marshall and Robert Skates, when it hit rocks and sank.

The three men, who had been taking part in a Downtown Radio charity fundraiser, had to be rescued and later described it as “very frightening”.

Hero said: “In the good old days of Downtown everyone would have circled the wagons and offered us support.

“But we were not looked after at all. Management made no effort to come and see us. In fact, we were made to feel as if it was our fault.

“I asked for counselling but was told I didn’t need it. As it turned out I did. My own doctor told me I was suffering from post-traumatic stress.

“It just indicated to me how detached the upper echelons of management were from us.”

Hero, who also fronts the Glam Slam rock band and DJs at the Duke Of York, said that ownership changes at Downtown had “chipped away” at his enthusiasm.

“It’s like a corner shop being taken over by Tesco. We’ve lost our local identity,” he said.

“I am sad to be going but I’m also looking forward to an exciting new start at U105.”

A spokesperson for Downtown Radio said: “We can confirm that Johnny Hero has resigned. We would like to wish him all the best for the future.”

Hero will take over from George Jones on the Drive Time show on U105 from November 1. Jones will present a new show on Sunday evenings from 6pm.

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