“THANK-YOU Melbourne, thank-you Victoria. For the final time, take care. Goodnight.”
With those words Mal Walden last night ended a five-decade-long career that began in Warrnambool as a teenager.
Australia’s longest-serving newsreader had to fight back the tears as he was handed bouquets and surrounded by cheering colleagues for his final bulletin on Channel Ten.
“On June 6, 1961, I started my radio career at 3YB. I was quite keen on being a DJ but started out as a newsreader."
“I’ve read my way through countless bulletins — 12,000 was the last count, but I could not have done in without help,” Walden told viewers.
“I’ve reported the highs, the lows, the history-making headlines for more than 52 years, 43 of those on Melbourne television.
“We’ve attempted to give you a front-row seat on this evolving, sometimes troubled world of ours.”
The 68-year-old has strong links with the south-west, living in Port Fairy during his teenage years, attending Warrnambool High School and starting his broadcasting career in the region.
“On June 6, 1961, I started my radio career at 3YB. I was quite keen on being a DJ but started out as a newsreader,” Walden told The Standard in 2008.
He spent three years at 3YB and a clip from his early days on the breakfast radio shift was featured on last night’s bulletin.
Walden has been a fixture of south-west television screens since 1978, first as HSV7’s anchor before being sacked amid controversy in 1987, an episode he mentioned last night.
He crossed to Channel Ten only a few weeks later after a phone call from fellow newsreader David Johnson, who originally hailed from Terang.
Walden contributed to Warrnambool winning the 1988 Premier Town award, featuring in a film made by BTV6 about the city.
Thankyou everyone. Absolutely overwhelmed by your support and well wishes. In case you miss this last one.... Thanks for sharing my journey.— Mal Walden (@MalWalden10) December 4, 2013
Network Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan said Walden was Australia’s longest continually-serving television personality, with 43 consecutive years on air.
Brian Henderson read Channel Nine’s Sydney news for 38 years, his Melbourne equivalent Brian Naylor served as a newsreader for 35 years, while Peter Hitchener has read Nine’s Melbourne bulletins since 1974.