Annie Mac: A Tribute

Lily Holbrook delivers a touching tribute to the radio legend, Annie Mac

Lily Holbrook
11th May 2021
Instagram: @anniemacmanus
After 17 years with the BBC broadcasting giant, Annie MacManus is hanging up her headphones. Across 6 special years, the Irish DJ’s flagship new music show on Radio 1 has won the hearts of a nation of music lovers. But possessing an unforgettable legacy of her own, Annie’s place in the music industry extends far beyond her radio show. 

It was back in 2018 that Annie Mac’s Future Sounds show became the soundtrack to my university life. From Monday’s Power Down Playlist to her compelling interviews with up and coming artists from around the world, it quickly became my favourite Radio 1 show. Easily favouring Annie over mindlessly switching through channels on TV, I would listen almost every night in my second year kitchen for chilled evening inspiration.

But away from the blissed out sounds of her intimate evening shows, Annie Mac is perhaps best known for her iconic presence on the dance music scene. Talking of the ‘collective euphoria and the pull of dance music’ Annie Mac represents an era. Hosting Radio 1’s Dance Party on a Friday night, Mac has long appreciated the clubbing scene and everything it brings to UK culture and economy. 

Where DJing had the potential to become mentally lonely, Mac turned to her radio show for much-needed structure. Describing the human connection with her Radio 1 family, Annie Mac said in her leaving letter:

“I love the idea of leaving the party (and make no mistake working at Radio 1 does feel like a party) with a huge smile on my face, when I’m still having the most fun I can have.”

Annie’s enthusiasm for new music is infectious and the sheer diversity of artists featured on her shows is remarkable. Dipping between all genres, she’s a person that leaves prejudice at the door, uncovers stories and champions new talent. From Sam Fender to Anteros, I’ve discovered some of my favourite artists through Annie, tens of which have formed my own Annie Mac playlist. 

Forever vocal about her support for women, Annie is passionate about female artists and DJs pushing through the tiers and making it to the top. Black female artists like Nao, Celeste and Arlo Parks have all featured consistently on her shows, highlighting that female talent can be the norm and not the exception.

Annie's drive for gender equality in music is further channelled through her events firm Annie Mac Presents (AMP), priding itself on amplifying women, with 50/50 line-ups at Malta’s annual Lost and Found Festival. 

Eternally committed to supporting the next generation of female DJs, Annie is also championing Future 1000, ‘an initiative to provide 1000 girls, trans and non-binary students, under the age of 18, with free access to the training, tools and industry mentorship they need to kick start a career in dance music.’ 

Describing a ‘lovely closeness and familiarity in radio’ Annie never fails to take the listener on a journey, offering a safe space for all of us that will be sorely missed. With various things going on in life, I sometimes go through periods of not listening. But with the reach of a phone or the click of a remote, I know it’s never far away. Through the soaring highs and lowest lows, Annie has always been there. 

To keep hold of the stories recounted so beautifully by her countless guests over the years, Annie has recently taken to a new outlet: podcasting. Her hit podcast ‘Changes with Annie MacManus’ and brand new book ‘Mother Mother’ represent a new path in the broadcaster’s journey to put herself and family first.

For Radio 1 listeners who have grown up and evolved with Annie as a friend and a guide, the time has now come for her to change; to reclaim her real name and begin a new chapter.

While the iconic Annie Mac dance era may be drawing to a close, a new chapter is just beginning. Promising to return to radio ‘when the time is right’, rest assured this won’t be the last we hear of the broadcasting treasure that is Annie MacManus. 

‘Music is magic. I am in awe of it. I don’t know what this world would be without music.’ 

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AUTHOR: Lily Holbrook
MA Media & Journalism student at Newcastle University and science sub-editor for the 20/21 academic year.

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