Sunday Soapbox: Graham Mack pt 5
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 (read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4). The 5th instalment is below…
I’m pretty sure the most powerful man in town hated me even though we never met.
Being a local DJ in the small towns I worked at in rural Australia was like being in a cross between “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “Northern Exposure”, “Doc Hollywood” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”. When I presented the Breakfast show in one of these towns in the mid 90s, the town was ‘run’ by a wealthy businessman that most people in the town were scared of. I don’t know how powerful he is today or even if he’s still alive, so I don’t want to use his real name. Let’s just call him “Mr Potter”.
Potter didn’t actually own the radio station but when he called my boss to complain about what I’d said on the air, I got carpeted as if he did own it. He owned the local newspaper and the TV station. Logging was big business and he owned the transport firm that hauled the logs to the paper mill and carted the paper products out of it. He also owned all of the fuel franchises that sold the fuel to the logging firm. He owned a local sports team who were sponsored by his fuel company and their games were shown live on his TV station. He was incredibly powerful and always got his way. I was told many stories about him. My favourite was about a time he caught a couple of workers sitting down on the job and fired them on the spot. He didn’t realise that they were only visitors to one of his depots and they didn’t even work for him.
Mr Potter’s TV station was terrible. It’s nightly news program was fronted by an old warhorse journalist and a young Gomer Pyle lookalike that clearly didn’t get on. The funniest show of all was a not so cleverly disguised info-mercial called, “Woman’s World” which was on every lunchtime. A large part of my show each morning was taken up with me taking the mickey out of these shows.
One day my General Manager went to a regional meeting of radio station managers. The next day he said to me that a manager of a big city radio station had said to him that he’d enjoyed listening to my demo tape. I was surprised, I hadn’t sent out any demo tapes. I found out later that Potter was so fed up with me dissing his TV station that he’d started recording my show and was sending tapes out to other radio stations, hundreds of miles away, hoping that I’d be offered a job and would leave!
When the most powerful man in town is helping you get a better job, you know you’ve arrived!
Next Sunday, another instalment from Graham Mack.
Listen to “Mack Nuggets” at www.mackmedia.co.uk