Legendary radio presenter Doug Mulray, known to listeners as ‘Uncle Doug’, has died at the age of 71 after struggling with a chronic illness for several months.
He died in intensive care in a Sydney hospital late Thursday night.
One of the pioneering voices of Australian radio in the 1980s, Mulray is best known for his time at Triple M, which he helped launch and where spent the majority of his career.
He was ratings winner in the highly competitive breakfast slot, with one radio industry figure calling him the ‘Kyle Sandilands of his day – possibly even better’.
While his cause of death is unknown, Mulray was said to be reclusive and battling poor health in his later years. He was admitted to hospital in December.
Legendary radio presenter Doug Mulray, known to listeners as ‘Uncle Doug’, has died at the age of 71 after struggling with a chronic illness for several months. (Pictured in the 1990s)
His last public appearance is believed to be a Triple M staff reunion held at a Sydney hotel seven weeks before he was hospitalised last year.
Known for his outrageous humour and memorable on-air characters, Mulray made a touching speech at the gathering of radio veterans.
‘We were the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, with the right attitude,’ he said, recalling the days Triple M dominated music radio.
Mulray, who cut his teeth at the ABC station 2JJ in the 1970s before it was rebranded as Triple J, left to join the new commercial station Triple M in 1982.
‘It was just an astounding thing to be part of,’ he once said of his days at Triple M. ‘We were blessed to have that thing… It was a joy to be there.
‘When I left radio, I was over it. I wanted the privacy and I kind of distanced myself… It was kind of like a fantasy.’
Mulray’s (centre) last public appearance is believed to be a Triple M staff reunion held at a Sydney hotel seven weeks before he was hospitalised last year
During his career on the airwaves, Mulray worked with the likes of Peter FitzSimons and Andrew Denton, and also recorded a series of well-received comedy albums.
He was often compared to Kyle Sandilands – the undisputed king of contemporary commercial radio – although their styles were completely different.
Despite his success on radio, Mulray was unable reach the same success on television – in part due to a notorious run-in with Channel Nine owner Kerry Packer.
He was hosting an episode of the bawdy clip show Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos in 1992 when he introduced a video of a boy pulling a kangaroo’s testicles.
A puritanical Packer, watching from a party at his Sydney mansion, was so furious and embarrassed he phoned the studio and yelled: ‘Get that s**t off the air!’
The show was abruptly pulled, replaced with a re-run of U.S. sitcom Cheers and was never screened again. Mulray was fired and banned from the network as a result.
However, he did return to Nine years later as a judge on the talent show StarStruck in 2005, the year of Packer’s death.
He also briefly appeared on Channel 10 talk show Beauty and the Beast in 2002 and fronted the short-lived program Mulray on Seven in the early ’90s.
2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham remembered Mulray on Friday as one of the greats of the industry, saying he was known for his ‘adrenaline’-fuelled broadcasts.
‘If there’s a radio station in heaven, they better get the dump button ready, because Doug Mulray is coming,’ Fordham said.
KIIS FM host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson said she was ‘very sad’ to learn of his death, as her co-host Kyle Sandilands said: ‘I knew he wasn’t well.’
Brad March, a former SCA executive who runs the Marchmedia talent agency, called Mulray ‘arguably the greatest FM breakfast host ever on Australian radio’.
March added to Mediaweek: ‘Heard on Triple M Sydney, he was the original, the funniest and one of the most entertaining announcers I have ever heard.
‘His show was so compelling I used to listen for hours each morning during the ’80s.
‘Hired by the legendary Rod Muir, Doug dominated radio ratings and gave rise to Andrew Denton, who started as a writer on his show. Mulray was an extraordinary wordsmith, a brilliant broadcaster, and a great comedian.
‘In FM radio, before Kyle and Jackie O, Wendy Harmer, Hamish and Andy, The D Generation and Martin Molloy, there was Doug Mulray, a real pioneer and regarded as true radio royalty.’