Young Gold Coast guns Michael “MP” Peterson and Andrew “Andy Mac” McKinnon, a Rip Curl ad from 1972.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

There were no beach cameras or mobile phones when Andrew McKinnon hit the airwaves 28 years ago to tell Gold Coasters if and where ‘surf’s up’ on Sea FM.

A former World Longboard Champion surfer known to most as Andy Mac, McKinnon will broadcast his final surf report for Sea FM on July 28 — 28 years since he first joined the station in March 1989.

“I never thought I’d hold a job longer than one month, let alone for a year — and let alone 28 years,” he said.

“It’s been an amazing ride and I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to some ups and downs but in the end, its been a huge privilege and a pleasure waking up early every morning to call the surf, where it’s happening and being so stoked at doing a job I’ve loved.”

McKinnon files eight reports a day for broadcast across Sea FM and Gold FM weekdays from 6.30am, with Mark ‘Richo’ Richardson and Matt Aldridge filling in on for him on weekends and when he’s on holidays.

“In the early days, not everyone was excited about me giving away their spots and where the waves were pumping,” McKinnon said. “When more radio stations were established and surf reports were part of programming — meaning more surf reporters were hired — and then the online surf cams arrived, the doors were flung open and I was not so alone.”

McKinnon called on his famous surfing buddies to stand in for him over the years, including great mate Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew. “My oldest son, Blake, also filled in for me. None of the radio announcers were ever full-time surfers apart from Dean Miller,” he said.

Born in Melbourne in 1953, McKinnon moved to the Coast in 1959 and attended Broadbeach State School, The Southport School (TSS) and Miami High. He studied (and surfed) political science at the University of Hawaii Kauai’s Community College before returning to Australia and becoming a surfing gypsy, chasing waves and work from Byron to Melbourne, Phillip Island, Sydney and back.

Having dipped his toe in the water at Double J radio station and later, Triple M during stints in Sydney, McKinnon eventually returned to the Coast in 1989 — a year after he’d been crowned World Longboard Champion — to begin a full-time media career.

McKinnon’s love of surfing and the ocean has made him a passionate advocate for beach protection. He helped organise the Australia Day Paddle Out as part of the campaign to Save Kirra in 2009, his involvement paving the way for one of his proudest achievements — leading the successful charge to have the southern Gold Coast declared the 8th World Surfing Reserve.

“I would have liked the entire Gold Coast from Straddie to Snapper to be a World Surfing Reserve but the political will of both State Government and Council would not support it,” he said. “Hopefully, one day that will change and all Gold Coast beaches will be protected for all users by legislation — but that move will be for the next generation of Andy Mackers.”

While his radio gig is often called the best job in the world, McKinnon, who turns 64 on July 23, said he was ready to try something else.

“It’s an absolute blessing working as a full time surf reporter on the Coast,” he said.
“I’ve had an excellent innings but it’s time to move on and concentrate on my writing.”
McKinnon has three books to write:

— A biography on unsung Aussie surfing champ Bobby Brown. “He was literally cut down in his prime in the sixties, murdered over a game of pool.”

— 1975: A diary of his gypsy days surfing everywhere from Bells Beach to Bali. “It reads like a novel but it’s a true story with all the characters including my mum and MP (Michael Peterson) and the political downfall of Gough Whitlam”.

— Voice of the Surf, his autobiography.

-    Author: Suzanne Simonont
-    Source: Gold Coast Bulleting

-    Full article HERE

Andy with his parents Gordon and Margaret at Lennons Broadbeach in 1959.


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