The radio industry’s crème de la crème gathered on Saturday, October 14 in Sydney for the most anticipated night of the year, the Australian Commercial Radio & Audio (ACRA) Awards.
The annual event honours the outstanding achievements of radio personalities and broadcasters who captivate and entertain millions of listeners across the nation and it was Neil Mitchell who shone the brightest, walking away with the top gong of the evening.
Mitchell took home the award for Best News Coverage for his reporting on the Victorian floods as well as the prestigious Best Talk Presenter for the eighth time, cementing his position at the top of the radio game after an incredible 34 years hosting 3AW Mornings.
Mitchell said “it’s a great honour to be stepping down from daily radio on top” after he received the coveted award.
“I was going to use this as a farewell speech, probably a few of you would be aware that I have announced I am stepping down at the end of the year from daily radio to do a whole pile of things, but I don’t know, with this award if you reckon I am this good, maybe I should stay on,” Mitchell joked as he accepted the honour.
“Tom Elliott, you can bugger off back to Drive and Jacqui Felgate, mid dawns are available, I believe.
“Seriously though, good luck to both of you. It is a huge challenge and a huge honour you are taking on and I wish you well.
“One of my predecessors once said he had so many of these (radio industry awards) he used them as a doorstop.
“I can assure you I do not. They have pride of place in my office at home.
“But just a brief message to those staying in this bloody weird business, it drives you mad at times, it is massively unfair at times, it is run by idiots at times, and we have all seen a few of those, but it is the best job in the world.
“The real boss is the audience. This is the best job in the world. Enjoy it. Respect that real boss.
“Having a microphone for me has been an enormous privilege and 3AW and radio have been, apart from family, been the great loves of my life.
“To the audience and to radio, thank you for having me all these years.”
Again my program won two ACRAs at the radio awards. It is a humbling honor. It is also a massive tribute to my staff, the people who do the hard bit. Particularly Alyssa, Michael, Katherine and Bec. And thanks Andrejs for putting the entries together.
— Neil Mitchell (@3AWNeilMitchell) October 15, 2023
Mitchell’s top honour comes after the iconic radio presenter announced he will be stepping down as host of 3AW Mornings after more than 30 years on the air.
Mitchell made the announcement in a statement on Friday, September 1, telling his loyal fanbase that it was a “tough decision to step away from the daily program” and the “best job” he has ever had.
“Apart from my family, this has been my life and it has been a huge privilege,” he began.
“When a radio audience allows you into their lives you can’t help but feel the responsibility and the honour.
“As a broadcaster you cry with them, laugh with them, get angry as they do, and always fight for their interests.
“I have been acutely conscious of that privilege of the microphone every day I have been on air for over 36 years. It is a tough decision to step away from the daily program. It is the best job I have ever had.
“But I promise I will continue my philosophy and attitude through this new role. It is one I have crafted carefully with the approval of 3AW and Nine management because I want to continue to have an impact and continue to work for the audience as the media landscape changes.”
Mitchell joined 3AW in 1987, commencing a journey that would lead to an illustrious career. He started part-time on weekends and filled in as a morning host for Derryn Hinch. By October of that year, he hosted the Drive program, and in 1990, he took on Mornings, becoming a key figure in Melbourne.
Mitchell’s achievements span across radio, TV, and newspapers, earning him Walkley, Quill, and ACRA awards. Notably, he’s the only person in both the Melbourne Press Club Hall of Fame and the Australian Commercial Radio Hall of Fame.
His other accolades include an impressive tally of eight Melbourne Press Club Quill Awards for Best Radio Current Affairs Report, complemented by another for his prowess as a columnist.
Notably, the Melbourne Press Club Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award of 2011 found its rightful home in Mitchell’s hands, marking the first instance of a radio journalist securing this coveted recognition over a quarter of a century.
In a subsequent triumph, a Walkley Award was bestowed upon him in the radio/audio news and current affairs category, an acknowledgment of his incisive reporting that revealed the Ford Motor Company’s decision to cease vehicle manufacturing in Australia post-2016.
In 2007, he became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions to media and the community through charitable work.