Doug Mulray

Interview - Doug Mulray

I/V: Doug Mulray, Broadcaster / Announcer: Breakfast from The Basement (Music Max) : 18th June 2003

Doug Mulray is an Australian radio icon, and an exceptionally snappy dresser. In the past he has worked under the names Dave Davidson, Pete Peterson, John Johnson, Boutros Boutroson and Liberace. Doug started radio broadcasting in a frustrated attempt to make the world a better, kinder, gentler place, and by reasoning that it would be an effective way to attract easily impressed young women. He was correct, of course, and for the first ten years of his professional broadcasting career Doug managed to date more than three different women (not at the same time.)

These days, Doug is often called Uncle Doug, Doctor Dougie, the Reverend Doctor Doug, and The Prong. Actually, no-one calls him The Prong - he just wishes they would.

(The above wording came directly from The official Basement website. We are attempting to get the interview live in a hurry). Full credit to the Basement.

I would like to give a big public thank you to Doug and the entire Basement team for making this historic interview possible.

Interview via telephone (listen here) : 18th June 2003

After months of planning, and a few years of the idea manifesting, Greg Tingle interviews Doug Mulray!


Greg, good morning

G'day Doug How are you?


Thanks so much for making the time to do this. I really appreciate it.

Not at all. Where are you?

I'm actually at good old Coogee

Are you? Coo-gee

Yeah mate , I've been all over the place. I normally live at Maroubra, but I've actually got a mate who's got a bit of a sound studio at Coogee, The Media Game, and I've just been over Balmain, I've been all over the place. I was actually watching you on the FOX this morning as well.

You've been having a few laughs?

That's right…let's swing into it…

How did you get your break Doug?

My big break….I had been traveling around Europe doing the Great Aussie Trek, actually in a Coma' van. I was in the front while I was driving and in the back while I was sleeping and came back without much idea of what I was going to do with my life. I was in my early twenties. I'd sort of been a retail salesperson after being expelled from school. Australia's worst student. So, I sent back tapes cause I didn't have very good writing. My father who was a lawyer used to send my letters back with red lines, cause I misspelt words and marks out of a hundred, so I sent tapes back 'cause I couldn't stand that level of abuse anymore! He played them to a few friends in the advertising radio industry, and they said "Doug's pretty articulate and reasonable eloquent, has he ever thought a bout a job in broadcasting"? Within a week of the comment - the broadcasting suggestion, I heard an ad for the broadcasting school - the Digger May Radio School, on 2SM back in the mid-70s, so I thought hello, that's fate, the windows opened, so I rang em up, and went and did the audition, and they said, "congratulations, your good enough to do the course". I later discovered that there were people in there with speech impediments, being good enough meant that you had to have $300 bucks, but that was me, and they did some audition tapes, and I got a gig at 2RD Armidale.

Fantastic. Sort of reminds me of me with my small amount of involvement with community TV and community radio in Sydney.

Yeah it would be the same kind of thing.

Yeah, its kinda like who's got money to pay the membership fee and can you come in on a Saturday, and all of a sudden an opportunity opens up

"Hello, I'm a broadcaster"

That's right, you've got to be there. Someone doesn't turn up for work…it's sort of cut-throat at times isn't it?

It is indeed.

So, tell me, what are you most well known for?

Oh, I think being sacked by Kerry Packer.

Quite a distinction.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about it, 'cause it was only ever to be one program. It wasn't meant to be a series. They did intend that it ran all the way through thought I got to admit and it was ratified by the Channel 9 censors before it went to air and by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. The last decision they made before they became the Australian Broadcasting Authority. They all agreed it was innocuous, and moreover it was rating 36ers when Mr Packer took the show off the air, which made it the highest rating show of the year, no, 2nd highest behind Elle MacPheresons's Swimsuit Special, but certainly that made me a household name in states that had never heard of Doug Mulray before.

Well that's what they say in the broadcasting industry…you know you haven't really made it until you've been sacked 1 or 2 times, and your name ends up in all the papers and your mug shots are out wherever.

I remember that Paul Dainty rang me afterwards. They were doing a production of the Rocky Horror Show, in Sydney, at the Theatre Royal and he said, "mate I want you to be the narrator, and I said, "I haven't done much stage work, and I don't really have time, because I'm doing the radio thing, and that's an early start and 5 days a week, and I don't want to do 8 shows and a Saturday matinee…you got to do it, you got to do it, I'll pay you a lot of money. I said, "why would you do that". He said "This press that's been generated by Kerry Packer sacking you has got to be worth about 2 million dollars. It would be a fantastic profile for someone doing the show, and I hadn't thought of it in those terms. It reminds me of the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Well, that's right. I remember one time, I didn't realise..I was just getting started in the media business, but I called up….can I mention a radio station….I called up 2UE at the time and I was doing Olympic volunteering at the technology section and I called John Laws just to talk about reality TV, and I didn't realize at the time, but John Mansfield from Telstra was on before, and I said nice man, smart man da da da, and all of a sudden I get quoted in the newspaper that Greg say's he prefers Telstra over Optus, in the newspaper, because I worked for both companies, but what the newspaper failed to realise, was the face that I worked for both companies, and I'd actually called up to discuss reality TV. I guess that's the media for us, isn't it.

Yeah. They pick what they want

Yes, they certainly do, and they do it time and time again.

So, tell me, how did The Basement deal come about Doug?

Well, I'd had a vision after I retiring from radio the first time at Triple M, I'd had a vibe on creating a studio, that would create product that would be viable on radio and television similtainsly. It came about after doing an interview with Kerrie Anne Kennerly and one of her cohorts, Gordon Elliot I think, so they were in the studio at Channel 10, sitting on the obligatory leather lounge with the 2 pottered palms, and I was in the Triple M studio whipping carts in and out and sound effects, it was all kind of frenetic and attempting in the middle of that that chaos to talk to them about something I can't ever remember what the issue was. I think we had a number one survey or something and they wanted to do the interview and Hamish Cameron, who is my now my CEO, was the director of the radio end...the stuff that was being beamed from the Triple M studio back to Channel 10, and he rang me up and said have a look at the tape of this interview, so we sort of sat down over a couple of beers and looked at a video tape of the interview, and it was quite astonishing to cross from the radio studio to the television studio and back again and notice, and I mean no disrespect to Kerry Anne or Gordon Elliott, but just the difference in energy levels.

to be cont...


The Basement

Music Max


Triple M

Greg Tingle is currently also writing a feature article on Doug Mulray.

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