After 17 years on air, DJ Annie Mac is hanging up her presenting hat and leaving BBC Radio 1 – ending an era of championing new faces, hosting superstar guests, and some gigantic sounding Hottest Records along the way.
Annie’s time at the station originally began in the early ’00s. After studying English at Queen’s University in Belfast (and getting involved in club promotion with local techno spot Shine as a student) the Irish DJ moved to London and began working for the student radio network SBN, as well as hosting a residency at Camden Underworld. Mac was set on breaking into radio, and would regularly run off to interview bands at the nearby Barfly on her lunch break, before legging it back to the office. The DJ always dreamed of working for Radio 1 in particular, and later admitted to setting herself a personal goal: “I had given myself a little deadline,” she told The Independent. “I wanted to be on Radio 1 by the time I was 26.”
Ultimately, she got there. After working as a radio plugger – and a brief stint at an ill-fated radio station aimed at men working in IT (oddly, the concept never caught on) – Mac managed to get in the door at the BBC, starting out as a broadcast assistant Steve Lamacq’s show. Her first radio appearance took the form of a jingle for Mike Davies’ punk show – and in 2004 the DJ was given her own show: Annie Mac’s Mashup. Since 2015, her voice has been a familiar fixture on Radio 1’s weeknight evening show Future Sounds. Long known as the station’s resident dance lover, Annie Mac opened her first ever Future Sounds show with Wolf Alice – a statement of her genre-mashing intent.
Now, the much-loved DJ is stepping down from the show in order to focus more on other priorities: her podcasting work, writing fiction, and spending time with her family. Her final show is on July 30 – and fellow presenter Clara Amfo – currently at the helm of Live Lounge and the chart show – will take up the Future Sounds mantle. “I love the idea of leaving the party…with a huge smile on my face, when I’m still having the most fun I can have,” Annie Mac wrote in a farewell note on Instagram. “I will be coming back to radio broadcasting when the time is right. For now though, I would like to say thank you.”
She’s a true legend in music radio – and a fixture on Radio 1 for almost two decades – and we’ll miss her dulcet Dublin accent and outstanding music taste soundtracking most evenings.
We’ll miss you, Annie! Here are just a few ways you brightened up our weeknights.
She’s introduced the world to some massive tracks
Annie Mac’s show has long been home to Hottest Record in the World – the daily unveiling of a brand new track at 6pm. Last year alone, she’s played Arlo Parks’ ‘Black Dog’, Ashnikko’s ‘Daisy’ and Romy from The xx’s solo track ‘Lifetime’ on the airwaves for the very first time – and this week, she’ll be introducing us to new singles from Wolf Alice and Little Simz. Not too shabby at all.
And best of all, Annie Mac steers refreshingly clear of snobbery when she’s delving into newer music in particular. If you’ve never heard of Griff, Beabadoobee, Easy Life, or Bree Runway, then all the better as far as she’s concerned – it’s time to get acquainted.
She’s not a fan of being an elusive superstar DJ
Despite sitting down to interview some of music’s biggest names – Kanye West, Lana Del Rey and Kendrick Lamar, to name just three – Annie Mac’s never really been interested in celebrity glitz. Chatting away on the radio, she often has the approachable air of an excitable mate filling you in on their favourite new band over a pint. “I find that world quite fake and vacuous,” she told The Irish Examiner, in reference to fame. “Time is precious and I’d rather spend it with people I find stimulating, honest, and real.” At the end of it, Annie Mac’s a huge music fan first and foremost, and approaches her mega-famous interview subjects with a similar curiosity – asking the burning questions her listeners are bursting to hear about.
She throws a bloody good party
As well as bringing her love of dance music into focus on one of Radio 1’s prime-time shows (for years, challenged various artists and DJs to produce five minute mini-mixes) the DJ began handpicking talented line-ups for her Annie Mac Presents club nights shortly after presenting her first show at Radio 1: for six years, she’s hosted a full-blown electronic music festival in Malta. Disclosure, Bicep, Skream, Seth Troxler, The Blessed Madonna, Jamie xx and Armand Van Helden have all played it – and CC:DISCO has previously shared fond memories of festival boss Annie crowd surfing during an Artwork and Horse Meat Disco B2B set.
She stands up for what she believes in
Over the last 17 years, Annie Mac has used her huge platform on Radio 1 to draw attention to a number of issues – she’s long spoken up about gender imbalances in the music industry, and called for fans to put their money behind festivals and labels who work to champion women. The DJ has personally experienced being booked as the only woman on a line-up otherwise filled with men, and called out Reading and Leeds festival for exactly this imbalance last year. “Feeling so disheartened about this Reading and Leeds line-0up,” she wrote. “At the blatant lack of want to represent women. For all the 16-year-old girls going to their first festival at Reading and Leeds 2020. Just know that you DO belong on those stages.”
Feeling so disheartened about this Reading and Leeds line up. At the blatant lack of want to represent women. For all the 16 year old girls going to their first festival at Reading and Leeds 2020. Just know that you DO belong on those stages.
— Annie Mac (@anniemacmanus) February 11, 2020
Elsewhere, Annie Mac has been a vocal campaigner for nightlife, and four years ago presented Who Killed The Night? – a documentary about mass club closures across the UK. At the time of filming, figures showed that half of the UK’s nightclubs had closed down over the past decade. And when certain listeners apparently complained about Radio 1 playing Dave’s song ‘Black’ – a song that celebrates the beauty and pain of being Black – Annie Mac quickly rebuked them: “It’s a real issue that a song so intelligent, so thought provoking so excellently put together can actually offend you,” she wrote on Twitter. Later, speaking to NME, she said: “I find that really depressing and an absolute justification for that song. It’s so important that the song exists and it’s only when you see the texts and tweets coming in that you realise how important it is and how much work needs to be done in this country for racial equality.”
Her zero bullshit policy in general
If Annie Mac’s raving about something, it’s usually because she’s head over heels for it and the DJ doesn’t shy away from giving honest appraisals. At the Mercury Prize, she once told a journalist from Gigwise that she finds Fall Out Boy “personally offensive”. Later expanding in an interview with The Guardian she pointed out that “the most important thing about being a broadcaster is believability… you’re a music fan. Have an opinion. That’s your job.””
– Annie Mac’s final BBC Radio 1 show is on July 30