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Fond farewell to familiar voice

Date

Chenee Marrapodi

6PR's Graham Mabury is retiring from 6PR's Nightline after 33 years.

6PR's Graham Mabury is retiring from 6PR's Nightline after 33 years.

It has been a long, winding but enjoyable road and Graham Mabury has hung up the headphones for the last time after hosting Radio 6PR's Nightline program for 33 years.

Mabury's final show was broadcast from Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, an event that he openly invited listeners to attend.

He said the time had come for him to spend more time with his wife and family – and with his sons living in the United States, he needed more time to do so.

“Instead of being able to go for two or three weeks at the most, you need to be able to go for several weeks if you want to be nanny and poppy – be a family,” Mabury said.

“For many people they can visit their family by just going to the next suburb. It just so happens we have to go to the other side of the world”.

Mabury said discussion of his departure began more than a year ago with 6PR general manager Martin Boylen and program director John Solvander.

“It's hard to articulate but you kind of know when it's time. You sometimes hear elite sports people say 'I just got up one day and I knew' – and it was like that.

“As my oldest grandson would say – quoting Finding Nemo – 'It's going to be okay, it's time to let go Poppy’.”

Back when it all began in 1981, Mabury and wife Merle, expected the position to only last for six months.

“I can remember driving into 6PR, at some point near the Causeway, every sphincter in my body would seal shut with terror – and they wouldn't relax until halfway home,” Mabury said with a laugh.

“I think the only word is terror – because you're following such a giant (Neil Adcock) and the program had been so successful”.

Six months passed and Mabury's program proved to be a success, reaching out to listeners of all ages, some in extraordinary situations.

“One guy rang one night and spoke to me from a public phone box and he actually had the gun with him that he was going to use to end it all,” Mabury remembered.

“He said to me, 'I don't know why I've rung really, but I think I wanted to say goodbye to somebody’.”

Similar calls prompted Mabury to establish the Living Stone Foundation, an off-air counselling service that later joined with Lifeline WA.

Mabury said he was blessed to have worked with some of the best people in the business and had the opportunity to interview almost anyone he had ever wanted.

“The only one I never got was Mother Theresa – got a letter from her, but never got an interview”.

Mr Boylen said Mabury was still at the top of his game and could have stayed on for a further 10 years if he had wanted to.

“He's brought such a heritage – everyone listens – from 80-90 year olds to 17 year olds. He's a companion to a lot of our listeners.

“I'll miss Graham, but it's his family's turn.

“We've had him every night, his wife has only had him two nights a week, so he deserves a break.”

Halfway through Mabury's final program, the baton was handed over to Mabury's replacement, former Overnight presenter Chris Ilsley.

“He's always done a great job sitting in for me when I go on leave,” Mabury said.

“Now he gets a chance to take the program where he wants to go.

“I will say this – he's getting the best audience in radio”.

Mr Boylen said there would be some changes to the Nightline program.

“We can't just do everything we've done before, without Graham Mabury, and still expect it to be the Nightline show,” Mr Boylen said

“They won't be changes that startle the audience, it'll just be a new presenter bringing new things to the program.”

Mabury said he would continue his work at the Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, but as far as his personal life went, it was the simple things he was looking forward to.

“One of the things that will be fun, and really strange, is to have nights and to be able to go to dinner with friends,” Mabury said.

“How cool is that? Sit on the couch with your wife and watch a movie. Haven't done that for 33 years.”

Read more about Graham's departure in the special edition WAtoday.com.au newspaper that will be distributed in the Perth CBD on Friday.

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