Sunday Soapbox: Graham Mack pt 1
How an airconditioning mechanic working in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain
Graham Mack was born in Liverpool England and became an Australian citizen in 1993. He’s an AFTRS graduate and worked on the air here at 2QN, 6KG, 2PK, 5SE, and 2GO.
He’s won some of the industry’s biggest awards as a talk show host and music jock, on commercial radio and The BBC. Since 1997, he’s been working on radio stations in London and all over the UK. He is currently the Program Director and Breakfast Show Host at BOB fm.
In a weekly Sunday morning series on Radio Today, Graham shares with us some very funny stories from his time learning about and then getting onto Australian radio.
When I got to the studios, of 2SM, it was surreal. They put me in a brand new studio next to a big window that looked out over the magnificent Sydney Harbour. There were only a few distant wispy clouds that summer evening; the water was electric blue and the clear sky provided the perfect backdrop to the city skyline and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I felt like I was dreaming. Unfortunately, what started out as a dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
I had cheated to get through the first stage of the application process to get on the top broadcasting course in Australia and I didn’t feel good about it. According to the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s rules, I should have typed out my thousand word essay myself. Although I’d written every word, I’d paid a secretarial service to type it out for me. I hadn’t just bent a rule, I’d broken it. But hey, I still had to get through two more stages. If it turned out that I really wasn’t AFTRS material, surely I’d get found out soon enough. I decided not to worry about it.
The second stage of the AFTRS selection process was a demo tape. I was told to call 2SM, a commercial radio station in North Sydney and arrange a time to go in and record it. They said I’d be told what I had to do when I got there and that scripts would be provided. I booked a recording session for early one evening so I could go on my way home from work.
The red light came on and I was told to read the copy in front of me. There was a news script, a weather forecast and some commercials. As the tape recorder reels turned, I got more and more nervous, started to sweat, my mouth dried up and then so did I. I stumbled over the words in the news bulletin, lost my place during the weather forecast and finally read a commercial explaining how you’d be “a dead set, drongo” if you didn’t take advantage of the, “fair dinkum, true blue, dinky-die deals at the Awesome Aussie Barbecue Company,” which sounded ridiculous in my English accent. I knew I’d blown it.
Worse was to come when they made me listen to the whole sorry shambles again, played loudly through huge speakers in the production room, while the engineer transferred it to cassette. It felt like I was being publicly humiliated as a punishment for cheating to get this far. Why else would the universe show me a beautiful state of the art radio studio with a view of one of the greatest cities on earth, then make it abundantly clear to me that if I ever got the chance to be in that room again, it would be to fix the airconditioning?
The engineer handed me the cassette and said, “There you go, send that to AFTRS”. I got home, put the cassette and the scripts on the kitchen table and just stared at them. When Julie came home, she knew something was wrong. I was too embarrassed to play her the tape, the dream was over.
Next Sunday, another instalment from Graham Mack.
Listen to “Mack Nuggets” at www.mackmedia.co.uk