Sunday Soapbox: Graham Mack pt 2
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 Soapbox series on Radio Today, Graham shares with us some very funny stories from his time learning about and then getting onto Australian radio.
No matter how hard you work and how determined you are, sometimes it just takes a bit of luck.
When I found out that I’d made it through to the third and final stage of the selection process to get on the top broadcasting course in Australia, I was worried. I’d broken the rules to get past the first two stages. I’d paid a secretarial service to type out my essay and I’d secretly re-recorded my audition tape. In the final stage, there would be nowhere to hide, no way to fake it and no second chance. It was a face to face interview. If I blew it, I wouldn’t be one of the twelve students selected to be in the class of 93 at The Australian Film TV and Radio School.
I drove my air-conditioning van from our flat in Wollstonecraft on Sydney’s North Shore to AFTRS at North Ryde. Even in traffic, it took less than twenty minutes. It was enough time though to hear quite a bit of the John Laws Show on the talk station 2UE. John was a Sydney broadcasting legend. He was in fine form, editorializing about the way the Australian government was dealing with the current AIDS epidemic. “AIDS has become the number one cause of death for U.S. men aged 25 to 44, but in Australia it’s not even a notifiable disease. If you’re diagnosed with a notifiable disease, you’re required by law to report it to government authorities so they can monitor it’s spread and allocate resources. Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease in Australia even though it’s almost non-existent but HIV/AIDS isn’t. This government is not doing enough!” he said. That really got the phones ringing and by the time I got to AFTRS a lively on air debate was in full swing.
The AFTRS interview was intense. A panel of people fired questions at me and scribbled notes based on my answers for what seemed like an hour. I gave it everything I had and at one point became quite passionate. I told them that my mind was made up and that for the first time in my life I was going to do what I wanted to and even if I didn’t get on the course I was going to find a way to become a professional broadcaster anyway.
Then came the final question, “OK, imagine you’re hosting a phone-in show on a talk station. Pick any topic, let’s hear what you’d say to make people call in…” I took a deep breath and said, “AIDS has becomes the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44, but in Australia it’s not even a notifiable disease. If you’re diagnosed with a notifiable disease, you’re required by law to report it to government authorities so they can monitor it’s spread and allocate resources. Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease in Australia even though it’s almost non-existent but HIV/AIDS isn’t. This government is not doing enough!”
Next Sunday, another instalment from Graham Mack.
Listen to “Mack Nuggets” at www.mackmedia.co.uk