Warrnambool launches Walden on 52-year news career - but all good things come to an end

“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.

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.

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