AGELESS: Australia All Over presenter Macca reckons he still loves the job 35 years on because it connects ordinary Australians of all ages and backgrounds.
AGELESS: Australia All Over presenter Macca reckons he still loves the job 35 years on because it connects ordinary Australians of all ages and backgrounds.

Macca's been all over Australia for 35 years

IAN 'Macca' MacNamara is surprisingly humble for a man who has hosted a top-rating ABC radio show for 35 years.

Congratulated on what is an almost unheard of milestone, the voice of Australia All Over said the show's success was less about him and more about the ordinary Australians who called in and shared their stories.

"It is a really exciting and rewarding program to work on because it connects us," Macca said.

"There are so many divisions in society today. We don't talk about them on Sunday morning (when the show airs). We don't get into the political fray.

"It's always been a very Australian program and what it does is reflect society, and the lives and wants and needs of ordinary Australians."

But Macca's is no ordinary story.

ON THE ROAD: Ian 'Macca' MacNamara meets listeners during an outside broadcast in Tamworth in January this year.
ON THE ROAD: Ian 'Macca' MacNamara meets listeners during an outside broadcast in Tamworth in January this year.

A Sydney boy, who completed an economics degree before heading bush to be a jackaroo, Macca became singer/guitarist for the legendary Col Joye and the Joy Boys before joining the ABC in 1974, working on TV's A Big Country and Countrywide.

He moved to Rural Radio in 1980 and became host of Australia All Over two years later.

In 1987 the program went national, after city travellers who heard the regional show demanded to know why they couldn't hear it in their own lounge rooms every Sunday.

But how has it kept its appeal over all those years? Has much changed?

"It's always been about ordinary Australians going about their ordinary lives, and it still is," Macca said.

"It's fascinating what people do and the places they call from, whether it's a ringer at Kurrumba Downs Station or religious people, truckies, people on oil rigs or kids interested in rocks.

"It's just a lovely reflection of what life's all about.

"People like hearing other Australians, their down-to-earth attitudes, their humour, their spirit and positivity.

"There's not many places in the media you get that today, and it's that reassurance that most Australians are good decent people."

Just back from an outside broadcast in Blackall (about 1000km north-west of Brisbane), Macca said he loved travelling the country and getting out and meeting listeners.

BEGINNING: Australia All Over live from Launceston in 1982, with Macca (far right) meeting some of the local ABC staff.
BEGINNING: Australia All Over live from Launceston in 1982, with Macca (far right) meeting some of the local ABC staff.

He's been to about 200 destinations over the show's 35 years, from the middle of the desert at Old Andado Station, six hours south-west of Alice Springs, to Gatton in Queensland after the 2011 floods, to the centre of Sydney.

"OBs are pretty special. You get up at four in the morning in a strange town after travelling all day and you might find 3000-4000 people waiting for you in a park in Toowoomba or Adelaide, or 30-40 people in a remote Aboriginal community like Oak Valley in central Australia - it's wonderful."

And, while he always received letters and shortwave calls from outside Australia, Macca said there were an increasing number of people reaching out on the internet from around the world.

"The world moves a lot faster these days. Life's changed, society's changed.

"We've got mobile phones and technology, but Sunday is still that bit slower and quieter, when you have a chance to sit and listen to the radio and relax.

"You could be surfing the net, but we surf Australia every Sunday morning - we talk to Australia and the world."

Australia All Over airs on Sundays from 5.30-10am EST on ABC Radio.


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