'I love the radio gig': Cork's Rob Heffernan walking on air

"I love coming from Cork and all the characters of Cork, so the fact that I’m on the radio now in Cork and connecting with people every morning, I think it is a massive honour." 
'I love the radio gig': Cork's Rob Heffernan walking on air

Olympian, mentor, coach and presenter Rob Heffernan is the ultimate Cork character. Roisin Burke meets him for a chat. Pictures: Denis Minihane

FULL of enthusiasm for Cork, with an indefatigable belief in the potential of all things rebel red, Rob Heffernan is a breath of fresh air and a cup of caffeine in one.

Settled into his newest gig as part of new breakfast show on RedFM, Rob said he loves his new challenge.

“I love the radio gig, it’s a great buzz. 

"The first five weeks were tough, now I just be myself, going in, I feel way more like myself, just having a laugh like, having the craic, it’s a brilliant buzz.”

Rob said he feels very lucky to have landed his radio presenting role.

“I feel very lucky. I always had a massive connection with Cork, I love coming from Cork and all the characters of Cork, so the fact that I’m on the radio now in Cork and connecting with people every morning, I think it is a massive honour and I love it. That’s a real positive.”

Rob said in some ways his love affair with Cork radio has come full circle.

“When I was training, away on training camps, I would have been listening to RedFM and just having that connection with Cork at home and I suppose now the fact that I’m on it, it’s just a great buzz.”

While being on morning radio is his latest challenge, Rob is someone with many fingers in many pies.

“My lifestyle is good, I’m on the radio, I’m working with Bank Of Ireland (BOI) in the schools then, during the day, doing financial literacy with the kids, sort of how to manage money and to give them good financial habits.”

The five-time Olympian said he thought this part of his life had a significant importance.

“I came from a background where I didn’t have money and I learned the hard way and I think it is good to teach the kids that because they have no idea how to manage finance or where money comes from.”

As well as that, Rob also works to motivate kids to get out and about, moving and shaking.

“It’s about trying to balance financial, physical and mental wellbeing with the kids, because there is no point having money if you are going to have a banger, and there is no point being fit and healthy and having no money.”

Rob said he gets a kick out of working with kids.

“I love working with kids, they have no baggage. They are not bogged down with the misery of life.”

The athlete said he’s a believer in the work hard, play hard mantra, as it would seem.

“I think people want to have a laugh, have the craic, I think if you can compartmentalise and work really hard when you are meant to work and relax and have a laugh when you are off, that’s a really good balance. It’s about balance.”

Busy family life 

Outside of the radio show, the BOI gig and his coaching, Rob is kept busy by his four kids.

“My kids are the love of my life, I love doing things with them, I love what they are up to.”

So much so that during the pandemic, Rob said he was one of the few that revelled in the free time.

“I loved it, it slowed everything down for me. Life can be so busy, I enjoyed the time at home with my family and it made life a lot simpler and made me appreciate things when life opened up again. 

"I used to be afraid to say it at the time, but I loved it. It was like a catch up for all the times I was away at races, but it got a bit grating at the end alright.”

Although no longer competing, Rob likes to keep fit, getting out five times a week to cover a few kms.

“I love getting out for a run, no pressure, just running. I think that is really, really important.

“If I can get out the door five days a week and run even 10km I can enjoy a few glasses of red wine at the end of the week and enjoy my food. It’s kind of yin and yang, if I end up not running, I won’t have the wine.”

Rob admitted he is a big fan of good wine and even better food.

Living in Blackrock, alongside the marina for the past three years, Rob said it’s a pipe dream to one day own a coffee shop in the village and spend his days chatting and sipping good quality coffee.

Rob said we all have times like that but his determination and discipline to keep the show on the road was something he was proud of.

While there have been tough times, Rob said he has no regrets over the years.

“I think anything that has happened, good or bad, if you are willing to learn from it, and use it as an experience, and move on from it, and drive on, then it’s worth it.

“I’ve done loads of mad stuff and made loads of mistakes, but I’ve learned from it.”

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