One of my favourite journalists, Mark Colvin, died at the age of 65 from a rare immune disease.
For the last 20 years, Mark Colvin was the host of the ABC Radio current-affairs programme PM which is broadcast every weeknight from 5:05pm on Radio National and from 6:05pm on ABC local radio stations. Barely a weeknight evening has passed over all those years where I have not tuned into PM to listen to Mark’s wonderful in-depth interviews complimented with some of the ABC’s finest news reporting.
I was just 16 when Mark Colvin started hosting PM. In many ways I was naïve about my country and the world. Whilst I have benefited from a formal tertiary education, it is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that has played a pivotal role in teaching me about the reality of politics, economics, history and the arts. Mark Colvin’s PM has been the centrepiece of an ABC “education” that I have been experiencing since I was in my mid-teens. Mark Colvin’s in-depth interviews with politicians, academics, economists, authors, thinkers and other leaders were always enriching, thought-provoking, insightful. Colvin contributed to my better understanding of the world. He was clearly an intellectual; a deep thinker and a prolific reader with a wonderful talent.
Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, Mark Colvin was there on my radio. Sometimes I would deliberately leave work at 5:55pm so that I would be in the car for the 6pm ABC News bulletin and then the first half of PM. A slow drive home in traffic wasn’t so bad when listening to such thought-provoking radio. Sometimes I’d arrive home mid-way through one of Mark Colvin’s interviews and I’d just sit in the drive way with the engine off waiting for the interview to end before entering the house. Even though I don’t have much of a commute these days, I still endeavour to have my radio ready for PM.
If Mark Colvin’s voice wasn’t speaking to me in the car, it was speaking to me in the kitchen whilst dinner was being prepared.
Mark Colvin was prolific on Twitter and I had a few engagements with him online. I remember once tweeting to @Colvinius in 2010 about the confusion I was having with the PM broadcasts: Was the 5pm version on Radio National simply replayed at 6pm on local ABC stations or did Mark do a second broadcast? He replied to me that he did a second broadcast for local radio but some of the parts from the RN version were re-broadcast. I was impressed that he even replied (during the broadcast no less!) but that’s the sort of person he was.
It is somewhat strange to admit that Mark Colvin has had an important influence on my life, even if I only knew him through the radio. I admired his intellect, I respected his talent and I thoroughly enjoyed his interviews on PM. Mark Colvin stoked my interest in politics, economics and current affairs and for that I am grateful.
He will be missed.