Mackay celebrates 30 years on air

Published date15 April 2024
Publication titleBush Telegraph
Then, host Jamie Mackay was happily commentating club rugby in exchange for a dozen cans of DB Bitter from the Mataura Licensing Trust

Cut to 30 years later, The Country has a loyal following all over New Zealand and Mackay is a household name in rural broadcasting.

While the show has gone through many changes over the years, its host has remained a constant, so what better way to celebrate The Country’s 30th than with the man himself?

Here, Jamie Mackay answers seven burning questions about The Country, his career, and rural life in general.

1Looking back on 30 years — what are you most proud of?

Well, firstly I’m proud that I’ve survived 30 years in a pretty cut-throat industry. I’ve always joked that 95 per cent of all radio jobs are lost when you’re on annual leave. And that there’s always someone younger, smarter and, most importantly, cheaper, ready to take your slot. But I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been the first to take a rural radio show nationwide on a commercial network. And the biggest one of all to boot, in the form of Newstalk ZB.

2What made you get into broadcasting?

Desperation and the frustration of being a house husband. I went to university to become an accountant, but the death of my father when I was just 19 meant I went farming. I ended up selling the farm because the Rural Bank wouldn’t loan me the money to buy a neighbouring block and expand the operation. I couldn’t see a way forward and didn’t want to be still shearing all my own sheep at 50 years of age. I initially got into radio as a passive investor, with no real ambition to be on air. I’m a big believer in fate. My career came about by accident, not design!

3How has farming changed since your broadcasting career started?

I sold my farm in 1992 and bought a radio station in 1994. I think the biggest change in the farming landscape has been the dairy boom of the 1990s and early 2000s. To be honest, the boom overreached and we ended up dairying on country we shouldn’t have. I think we’re much...

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