Shane McInnes: “I’ll never take this job for granted”


Our parents often play a big part in helping us achieve our dreams, and Shane McInnes’ dad was no exception.

The 3AW presenter and sports broadcaster says his late father was his greatest supporter, doing all he could to encourage his son’s passion for radio.

Growing up in Geelong, Shane’s love for the medium started taking shape when he was around eight years old.

Shane tells Radio Today “I’d ring the K rock breakfast and night programs, winning CDs and tickets to the movies.”

“The passion for radio only increased from there.”

Helping things along, Shane’s dad bought him a microphone and mic stand.

“I’d record myself hosting radio shows, spending Sunday afternoon commentating footy from the TV.”

Shane would try to emulate Dennis Cometti or Drew Morphett (the latter pictured above with Shane), two legendary commentators he would later have the privilege of calling colleagues.

Clearly, Shane’s childhood enthusiasm was catching.

“Dad would take me up to the see Ted Whitten, Rex Hunt and Tim Lane calling for their respective stations after games at Kardinia Park and would always encourage me to talk to people about a career in radio.”

“It eventually paid off!” Shane smiles.

A realist, Shane decided to cover his bases, at one stage enrolling at uni to study for a Graduate Diploma in Education.

“I knew (sports broadcasting) was competitive, so I wanted to have a fall back,” he says.

In 2007, Shane found himself doing work experience each weekend with National Indigenous Radio Service Football (NRIS).

It proved invaluable.

Andrew Underwood, Barry Denner and the team let me do stats, but it also gave me a media pass.”

“I’d sit in an empty box on weekends at the MCG or Marvel Stadium and just call footy, trying to refine my commentary.”

Ultimately, it gave Shane enough content to put together a demo CD.

“I sent it to everyone – the ABC, Triple M, 6PR, 5AA and of course, 3AW.”

Shane’s demo found its way to long-serving 3AW commentator Graeme Bond, who listened to it with interest.

“As Graeme told it, he consulted with the late Clinton Grybas and former program director Clark Forbes.”

“They all decided to give me a shot, and my first gig was the 2008 Australian Open.”

“Even now, it means so much to me that Clinton backed me in, given the talent he was.”

Grybas tragically passed away unexpectedly at the age of just 32, his death sending shockwaves through the industry.

“It was just days after I started,” says Shane. “I would’ve loved to have broadcast with him.”

Shane now enjoys what many sports buffs would consider their dream job, but says he’ll never take it for granted.

Standout memories include working at the London and Rio Olympics.

It was a tough slog, but he thrived on it.

“Working 19 hours a day, and constantly crossing into network stations and filing for the hourly news bulletin was exhausting, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Attending his first NFL Super Bowl in 2016 was also a dream come true.

“It was similar in Atlanta in 2019 when I was able to ask Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a question at a press conference, and he said ‘You’re from Australia – great to have you here.’”

“It’s one of those pinch-yourself moments where you say to yourself, “Wow, how did a kid from Geelong get here?”

Shane says it’s a been a joy to share the commentary box with some of the greats of Australian broadcasting.

“To have called alongside Dennis Cometti, Rex Hunt, Tim Lane and Brian Taylor – all blokes I grew up listening to – is pretty special.”

Right now, Shane is back on the ground again at Melbourne Park, right in the thick of the action at the 2024 Australian Open.

He says the tournament is like a mini Olympics – but with only one sport.

“I’m there to primarily cover the tennis, but there are stories everywhere you look, both on and off the court, and that creates great content.”

Passionate about every sport from AFL to Formula One, Shane’s day-to-day life is unsurprisingly hectic, with plenty of early starts and late nights.

Now dad to a young son himself, Shane says he’s never really been a nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday kind of guy.

“It’s funny – people will say to me, ‘Don’t you hate working Saturday nights?’ or ‘I could never work weekends’ and I’ll usually reply, ‘I could never work 9-5 and be in the office every day.’”

Shane says being a radio presenter – and a sports broadcaster especially – means you make sacrifices.

“I’ve missed many events over the years working weekends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“And my wife is amazing, because she gets it, 100%. She knows the job, and that I’ll be away at times.”

“But she gets to watch her trashy TV shows without me passing judgement, so it’s a win-win situation.”

In more recent times, Shane has fulfilled another ambition – hosting talkback programs on 3AW.

And he says it was recently-retired Mornings host Neil Mitchell who helped pave the way.

“I told Neil I was keen to fill in for him, and he said ‘I had no idea you had an interest in doing it.’”

“But, he backed me in, as have Stephen Beers and management since that first stint, and it’s led to other opportunities within the station.”

Shane says whilst it can be challenging to think which stories of the day will resonate with the audience, the potential for discussion is endless.

“I’ve learnt the importance of giving one’s opinion too.  If I’m going to ask for the listener’s view, I need to give mine.”

“Everyone has an opinion – sometimes we’ll agree, sometimes we won’t – but to be able to have the discussion is so important.”

“That’s the great privilege of hosting a program on 3AW. You can hear different views, break them down, and challenge them where required.”

Sixteen years after first landing at 3AW, Shane says he still gets a buzz when the ‘on air’ light goes on.

And he’s grateful to those in the industry who’ve help guide him along the way.

“I think early on, Barry Denner at NIRS (now Triple M) was very good to me and a great sounding board.  He knew what I wanted to do and always supported me with advice.”

“At 3AW, Graeme Bond and Rex Hunt were always incredibly supportive. I started at a very difficult time for them as Clinton had just passed away, but they supported me, and encouraged me at the very start of my career, and for that, I’ll be forever appreciative.”

“In recent years, Neil Mitchell has been a great supporter of mine and one that I can bounce things off.”

“There’s this perception of ‘grumpy Neil,’ but that was easy to crack through, and our relationship both on air and off is one I don’t take for granted.”

“Similarly, Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft are both incredibly approachable.”

“I think that’s one of the great things about 3AW.  You can always find someone to bounce ideas off, or chat to for encouragement. I hope I can pay that approach forward to some of the younger ones coming through the ranks now.”

Shane’s biggest mentor, though, will always be his dad.

“I probably didn’t realise nor appreciate it growing up, and even in my early years at 3AW, I took it for granted, but whenever I was on, he would listen. And that was a significant change for someone who’d never turned the dial from 774.”

“He’d always say ‘Great interview today, Shane’ or ‘You called that goal well.’”

“He was always listening. He passed away in 2016, and it’s always one of my greatest disappointments he never heard me hosting a Mornings or Afternoons show.”

“I think there would’ve been a lot of feedback!”

*Photos supplied

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Simon Owens
22 Jan 2024 - 6:43 pm

Lovely article Sarah.
I’m pretty sure Shane’s first night doing the tennis on 3AW he was doing crosses into Nightline with Bruce Mansfield and Philip Brady. Talk about a baptism of fire.
But I remember the boys (and me) being really impressed with his knowledge, delivery, and most importantly, his ad-lib ability with Bruce and Phil who knew nothing about sport.
I actually sent an email to the boss to say “I don’t know where you found him but he is fabulous”.

Pete Taylor
23 Jan 2024 - 6:00 pm

I never knew Shane’s back-story – thank you to Radio Today for sharing this. In the spirit of honesty, I don’t listen to sports radio at all. BUT – I love when Shane is filling in, as he does so often, on 3AW’s talk programs. He’s insightful, passionate, curious and caring – a beautiful combination. I think one of my favourite times listening was on Christmas Day when his partner and young child joined him in the studio – a magic moment. I genuinely hope to hear much more of Shane on 3AW (or elsewhere).


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