On-air roast will give 40-year broadcasting veteran a taste of his own medicine
By Greg Douglas, Sports Columnist Vancouver Sun June 23, 2012
SCENE & HEARD: Neil Macrae is retiring from CKNW but staying with Rock 101 because, in his words: "I can still mouth off with Bro Jake without doing any home-work or research. All we do is yell at each other."
Macrae, 60, has carved up and trashed people in sports during a radio career that has lasted 40 years. "I figured it out early," he says, "that you have to be different if you want to be recognized. I think the biggest insult in life is walking into a room and nobody noticing you or knowing who you are."
That's vintage Macrae. He's the guy proudly wearing the black hat willingly inviting his listeners to dislike him. "If 50 per cent hate my guts and 50 per cent want to listen to me, it means they are all listening. No matter how you cut it, it boils down to ratings."
Macrae has insulted everyone from Francesco Aquilini to Chris Zimmerman and a cast of thousands between the letters A to Z.
When that little red light goes on in the 'NW or Rock 101 studios, Macrae can turn into a monster, taking no prisoners. It is his comfort zone.
"Aquilini doesn't like me calling him Aqui-loonie," Macrae says. "He sent me a couple of threatening letters but it didn't amount to much. I generally read letters like that on the air and let the listeners decide who's right and who's wrong. They are almost always in my corner."
Outside of the rare guest appearance, Macrae's final sportscast on CKNW will be next Thursday at 8: 15 a.m.
He will then appear on the Bill Good Show the next morning from 8: 30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Before the Good show, a roast will be on the spit with Bro Jake on Rock 101 and arranged phone-in guests such as Bruce Allen, Brian Williams, Fred Latremouille, J.P. McConnell and Frosty Forst all enjoying one last chance to skewer Macrae.
In the early days of his career, Macrae would be asked to leave black-tie dinners because of his bare feet and clogs. On-air guests would walk out on him in the middle of interviews.
"I have no regrets," he says. "I had a helluva run and out-lasted most people in the business. And I made a lot of money along the way."
During his three decades with 'NW, Macrae became the endorsement king of the local airwaves. One of the first ladies of radio advertising in Vancouver, Barb Welsh, took Macrae under her wing. She taught him the value of landing exclusive sponsors and how much more earning power it would mean to him. It raised Macrae's stock considerably with station management. He could go off half-cocked on his sportscasts and deliver new advertising revenue at the same time.
"It's called survival," Macrae says. "Not many people in the industry get a chance to stay 40 years.
"Hate me. Tolerate me. But listen to me. It's all about ratings."
I had the very distinct pleasure of working with Neil and the rest of the Top Dog crew for close to 10 years, even did some sports on weekends. Working with the likes of MacRae, JP, Jim Hughson, Dave Randorf, Cory Woron and several others! He will be missed, by both sides of the love/hate panel!