Radio stalwart hangs up his headphones

Merle and Graham Mabury
Merle and Graham Mabury

With wife Merle sitting alongside him in front of a packed Mt Pleasant Baptist Church auditorium, the Nightline host of 33 years wrapped up a live broadcast of his final show by reiterating how he was following and living his Christian faith in bringing a special kind of kindness to night-time talkback radio.

A recorded message from his children, who now live in America, gave an insight into where retirement might lead the radio veteran.

But a single line from the recording also summed up what had made the talkback great such a doyen of Perth airwaves.

‘The greatest gift you can give anyone is your time; and to listen,’ spoke one of his children, with obvious pride.

It is fair to say Graham Mabury has given both in droves over his 33-year radio era. 6PR general manager Martin Boylen estimated Mr Mabury had presented 7590 shows and spent 30,360 hours on air ” the equivalent of a staggering three-and-a-half years non-stop.

In that time he would have answered about 190,000 talkback calls and conducted some 400,000 interviews but, as Mr Boylen attested, there was not one official complaint made about Mr Mabury during his decades on radio.

He was Graham to his callers but formally, broadcasters and journalists ” just like sportsmen and criminals ” are supposed to be known only by their surname.

Yet renowned footy commentator Brad Hardie always introduced ‘Mr Mabury’ during his on-air handover from the radio station’s evening sports show to Nightline.

Bob Maumill, another revered but far more controversial voice of talkback radio, spoke of ‘Saint Graham’.

So to his colleagues, the Nightline king was anything but ‘just Mabury’.

The Nightline family ” thousands of listeners and callers who sought and found comfort, solace and humour in the kind words and advice he offered, or simply ‘went to bed with Graham each night’ ” no doubt share that sentiment.

Tributes filled last Wednesday’s special live broadcast, with kind words and personal stories shared by 6PR’s on-air colleagues and dignitaries, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Premier Colin Barnett and Governor Malcolm McCusker.

It was a fitting opportunity for a few to share their personal ‘with Graham’ story. Without doubt many more of the 900 people present, as well as countless people listening in, could have done likewise.