With his heart on his sleeve | radioinfo

With his heart on his sleeve

Monday 18 May, 2015
Mark Geyer Photo: Triple M

Peter Saxon catches up with the Grill Team's Mark Geyer

It seems as if the airwaves are littered with sports people - ex-professionals passing comment on their former disciplines.

In reality, only a fraction of ex-footballers, golfers, tennis stars or any of a variety of Olympians end up making a living in the media after they retire. Of those that do make it on air, some like swimmers, high jumpers or archers only get to work sporadically. A relatively blessed few are lucky enough to wind up on a major commentary team during the footy season in winter or cricket in summer.

But the rarest of the rare are those who go beyond sports commentary and become permanent members of a Breakfast show that covers whole of life.

The current short list includes Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald of Fitzy and Wippa fame on Nova 969. But it’s the Triple M network where ex-players mostly reside. There's AFL’s Luke Darcy on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast in Melbourne. Ex-Rugby great Greg “Marto” Martin on Brisbane’s Grill Team and past NRL stars Matty Johns and Mark Geyer on The Grill Team in Sydney.

While some current players, like Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans plan their future career in media while still playing, Mark Geyer didn’t give it a thought until after he retired, “I never had any plans to be in the media. It found me, I didn’t find it,” he told me when I caught up with last week him at a charity function for epilepsy.

“I started out selling footy jerseys and school equipment out of the back of my car. Then in 2001, a year after I retired, I got a call from Terry Kennedy at 2KY (now Sky Sports Radio) and he said they were putting a footy panel show together for a pay TV channel called C7.”

Finally, in 2009 while working on a sports show on 2SM and doing Dead Set Legends on the weekends at Triple M, he read that Triple M was putting together a new weekly show. “It said that Stuart McGill and Gus Worland had already been signed on and I wondered why they weren’t giving me a buzz. 

“When I went through all my voice messages I found one I missed two months previously from Jamie Angel who said, ‘mate, are you keen to audition for this show?’ 

“I rang him and said, mate, I only just got the message, is it too late? 

“He said ‘no’ come in tomorrow. So, I did and did one break and signed a contract after five minutes.”

That was six years ago.

But what is it that makes ex-players like Mark Geyer stand out as having the right stuff to do breakfast radio?

Although I didn't put that question directly to him, somewhere in the midst of our conversation, Geyer, better known as MG summed it up best himself: “I’m a passionate bloke. I was passionate as a footy player. I’m a passionate dad. I’m a passionate husband. I’m passionate with my radio job and I’m very passionate about all the charities I put my name to.”

All true. As a Penrith Panthers tragic, I used to watch him play through the late 1980’s until in 1991 when, despite a stint in the sin bin, he helped his side win their first ever premiership. He was the type of player that played as much from the heart as his head. He put everything on the line. Left nothing in the sheds. The fans loved him not just for his skill but for his character.

And that’s pretty much the same attributes that radio looks for in on air talent.

An avid supporter of a number of charities, last week’s event to raise funds for The Key - Living with Epilepsy was particularly close to big MG’s even bigger heart. Two of his daughters have it. He breaks down every time he talks about it - all 6’5” and 115kgs of him. And last week was no exception as he addressed the well heeled at the luncheon held at Sydney’s five star Four Seasons Hotel. “When you see your daughter frothing at the mouth with foam coming out and you can’t do anything about it, it’s hard, it’s really hard,” said MG.

MG is also a staunch champion of the oft-maligned western suburbs that takes in the areas most recently exposed by the SBS series Struggle Street.

“I get angry when people label us. I get angry when people don’t look after us. But I also feel pride when I see someone doing good things out there,” he says. “I’ve had opportunities to move closer to the city, which would be a lot more convenient, but that thought quickly vanishes when I think of my wife and five kids who were born and bred in the west. They’ll have to carry me out in a coffin.

“My parents instilled some pretty intense values in me when I was a kid. Also, values that weren’t regimented so much as values about being yourself. That’s the mentality I’ve had throughout my life.

“I’ve got a local rugby league comp named after me and I make sure that I’m at every game I can get to. I make sure that that the rules and regulations are the ones that I adhere to so that I’m not a hypocrite. That’s kind of who I am.”

In 2013, Mark Bradley Geyer was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

“For service to the sport of Rugby League football, and to the community through a range of charitable organisations.”

It lists his achievements and contributions as;

Presenter, The Grill Team, Triple M Radio Show, since 2009; through his role at the radio station, he has established a regular segment called Random Acts of Kindness aimed at assisting those less fortunate in the community.

Organiser, 2011 Legends of Origin Charity Match, 2011; a fundraising initiative to provide support to the Queensland Floods recovery effort, the match raised $455,345 for victims of the floods.

Panel Member, NRL on FOX, Fox Sports Australia, since 2012

Panel Member, The Sunday Roast football show.

Supporter, Police and Community Youth Clubs, since 2001

Supporter, Work Direction, 2007-2009

Supporter, D-Sport, 2003-2005

Supporter, Yellow Ribbon Foundation, 2002-2004

Supporter, 'Fight For Life' Charity Boxing Event

Awards/recognition include:

Australian Sports Medal, 2000

Ambassador, Save Our Sons, since 2007

Goodwin Ambassador, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, since 2005

 

Peter Saxon

 

 

 

 

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