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Vale Doug Mulray

RADIO legend and renowned car and motorsport enthusiast Doug Mulray has died at the age of 71.

The Commercial Radio Hall of Famer and Sydney’s Triple M breakfast show host through the 1980s and early 1990s passed away yesterday after a long illness.

‘Uncle Doug’ was introduced to motorsport audiences nationally in the late 1980s when he began making cameo appearances with the Seven Sport commentary team at touring car races.

His on-air debut came at the opening AMSCAR Series round of 1988, where he filled in for Neil Crompton as the now-veteran Repco Supercars Championship caller made his first race starts aboard one of Peter Brock’s Mobil-backed BMW M3s. Crompton and Mulray’s relationship had already been cemented through Triple M.

“Being around him was like being strapped to a rocket,” Crompton said in his book, Best Seat in the House.

“He instantly dubbed me ‘Neils on Wheels’ at a time where there were one million people listening to his and Andrew Denton’s show. It was huge, and listening to that show was a part of Sydney culture at the time.”

Not pretending to be an expert on the sport, Mulray’s passion and general knowledge of the sport came across through his stints in the booth, as did the sense of humour that made him a star on the airwaves. Or, as he put it: “Well, when you’re ignorant of all detail it’s important that you do a few jokes!”

It led to a role in that year’s Bathurst 1000 broadcast where Mulray not only commentated during the race but also shot colour pieces and parody segments, including a Richie Benaud-slanted ‘Classic Crashes’ package, while he was also in the thick of an entertaining mid-race RaceCam chat between Crompton, Brock and the commentary team.

He became a regular in Seven’s coverage of the ‘Great Race’ in the early 1990s and was in the booth for some of the race’s most iconic moments, including Craig Lowndes’ shock pass for the lead on John Bowe late in the 1994 race.

Born in the Sydney northern beaches suburb of Dee Why in 1951, Mulray completed a broadcasting course at the Digamae Radio School run by industry icon Rod Muir and began his career at 2AD in Armadale, followed by stints at Gosford’s 2GO and Melbourne’s 3AW during the 1970s.

He rose to prominence when he joined the ABC’s alternative station 2JJ, the forerunner to national youth station Triple J, which led him to being poached in 1982 by the recently launched Triple M station to host its breakfast show.

“We were the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, with the right attitude,” he said in a rare public appearance at a Triple M staff reunion party last year.

“It was just an astounding thing to be part of. We were blessed to have that thing … It was a joy to be there.”

Triple M’s breakfast show dominated the ratings during Mulray’s tenure, which went from a market share of 2.6 percent to a peak of over 18 percent – for perspective KIIS led the most recent Sydney radio ratings with a market share of 11.9 percent.

Mulray’s show also helped launch the career of Australian media identity Andrew Denton, who started out as a writer for the show.

“You broke the mould. In fact, you reinvented the idea of a mould,” Denton said in a message to Mulray upon his induction to the Commercial Radio Hall of Fame in 2019.

“You single-handedly, as far as I could see, put commercial FM radio on the map. You were the first ever to take a commercial FM radio station to number one against the then dominant AM radio.”

Mulray with Trevor Ashby during the podium ceremonies at the first round of the 1988 AMSCAR Series. Pic: an1images.com / Rod Eime

Beyond his touring car commentary, Mulray also made a few headlining appearances on Australian television in the 1990s and 2000s.

A guest host stint on Channel 9’s The Midday Show in 1991 led to Mulray being given his own show by the network a year later, although Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos was infamously pulled from the air midway through its debut episode by station owner Kerry Packer, who banned Mulray from his network as a result.

He soon relinked with Seven and hosted his own Saturday night talk show, titled Mulray, in 1994 and 1995, and also hosted panel show Beauty and the Beast on Network Ten in 2002.

Mulray withdrew from public life after his radio and television career ended and in-person appearances in recent years were few, including accepting his Commercial Radio Hall of Fame induction with a video message.

The V8 Sleuth team extends our condolences to Mulray’s family and friends.

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