For three decades, listeners of the popular local radio station WRUS have tuned in to hear the smooth voice of “Big Mack” Mallory from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. There is something to be said for knowing that when you turn that dial a familiar voice will greet you everyday, adding to your comfort that some things don’t always have to change.
For Mack living on air for all these years has been a dream come true, a dream he admits came about accidentally, but non the less life changing.
Mack, although born in Logan County, grew up in neighboring Allensville. He is a graduate of Olmstead High School and attended Murry State University, Bethel University and Lambuth College. When Mack graduated from high school, he began down the road as a lay minister, he says he got the “calling” to preach when he was in grade school. It wasn’t until stumbling upon a radio station that he realized just what it was he was supposed to be doing in life.
“I really got into radio by accident,” said Mallory. “I made friends with someone I had in class in college who worked at a radio station. He invited me and I hung out there. One day the manager asked me if I wanted a job. That’s how it all started.”
Over the years, like most broadcasters, Mack hopped from station to station gathering experience. His first gig was a part-time position at a station in McKenzie, Tenn. He then worked full-time at a station in Cadiz called WKDZ where he became the program and music director.
“The manager told me I was the first person to be hired off the street with little experience,” said Mallory, who admits he was a little nervous at first, but quickly overcame it as time went on.
Mack’s beginning training consisted of a manager of a station sticking his head in one morning asking if Mack was okay, and then telling him “it’s yours,” and then leaving. “I was scared to death,” said Mallory, admitting it was the best training he could have received. “It was sink or swim,” said Mallory, who stayed on top and swam like a natural.
From Cadiz Mack traveled to Carthage, Miss. to work for a small station. He wasn’t very happy there and called up his buddy Lon Sosh who was working for a station in Forest, Miss. Mallory said Sosh told him to give him a little bit and he would make a place for him there. Mallory said he was excited to go, one to be with his friend and two because it was the largest “big booming” station he had worked at thus far.
After nine months, Mallory made yet another move to WNSL in Laural, Miss. He said they wanted him to be a “screamer” on a rock and roll station, but he quickly realized he was to soft spoken for that job. His next stop was Belzoni, Miss. at WELZ where he stayed for four years.
“I got a lot of experience I wouldn’t have gotten without jumping around,” said Mallory, adding that broadcasters are sometimes referred to as “Radio Gypsies.”
Mallory admitted it was hard for him to be away from home for so long. He was extremely close with his parents, Jimmy and Marion Mallory, and even though he came home when he could, he still missed being around his family.
One day, while working at a far off station, Mack got a call from his ole’ buddy Sosh. He told him he had bought the radio station in Russellville and wanted to know if Mack was ready to come home. Mack answered with a big “yes,” packed his bags and headed back to Kentucky.
So in 1983, Mack came home for good and began working for WRUS. His parents were so happy, he said, and so was he.
“Mack’s longevity is a real rarity in our industry,” said WRUS owner Chris McGinnis. “In a business where people wander from job to job and city to city, Mack chose to serve his community, on the air and in-person. Outside the station he has dedicated his time and energy to the Optimist Club, ministry and numerous charities. I doubt he can count the number of events he has emceed, or times he’s read the narration for the annual Jesse James Robbery.”
McGinnis says over Mack’s three decades at WRUS, he’s had to adapt to constant change, from programming and technology, to changes in ownership and his own duties.
“He’s tackled each change with enthusiasm and the jovial personality that has made him a trusted friend and resource to our audience. He’s played gospel, country, rock and easy listening. He’s read farm prices, covered major news events and reported lost dogs. Whatever it has taken to entertain and inform our listeners, Mack has done for 30 years and that’s a remarkable accomplishment,” said McGinnis, adding, “I’ve been told that WRUS is part of the fabric of this community. If so, Mack and Don are the thread. WRUS will celebrate our 60th Anniversary in August and Mack has been here for half of it. We are fortunate that Mack decided to use his talents to serve his hometown, and we congratulate and thank him for all he’s done.”
Mack says WRUS and the community have been very supportive of him and he cannot thank them enough. He said WRUS is more like a family to him than a job. He knows that being on the air was what he was supposed to do with his life and thanks God for allowing him to do it.