ABC journalist Mark Colvin devoted his life to telling stories. After his death yesterday, these are the stories his workmates are telling about him.
I remember when I first started at the ABC in 2000. I was a runner and autocue operator.
When I first met Mark, he said hello and asked me my name. Ever since then, he never forgot my name. He always smiled and said hello.
He treated everyone with respect, no matter who you were or what job you did.
I was a lowly [ABC] trainee when one day in walks this romantic figure, out of a novel it seemed to me. He might have come straight from Brideshead Revisited or something.
He was this handsome, kind of movie star-looking guy with this beautifully ‘English with an Australian quality’ accent. Perhaps the most articulate, the most erudite person I’ve ever met …
Of course, I was in awe of him, and so delighted we became friends.
It was probably the last on-air Q&A I did with Mark Colvin. I was on the Greek island of Lesbos about a year ago as the refugee crisis peaked.
Ed Roy, the executive producer, called me just beforehand. “You got your GPS coordinates mate?” he joked. “You know the routine — Colvin will remind you that he knows Europe far better than you and grill you about whatever he wants,” or words to that effect.
And so it was, as it always was. To do an interview with Mark Colvin was to enter the gladiatorial ring. You never knew what was coming, but you knew he firmly believed you should be sufficiently across the subject matter that he should be free to ask you anything at all. There was no point sending a list of suggested questions, he would have seen that only as a weakness. It was exhilarating, a breath-taking test of your knowledge and your ability to think on your feet.
Colvin would have said this far better than me, but in those moments you were glad to be alive.
I never met Mark Colvin, but following the death of my husband John Bean in the ABC helicopter crash at Lake Eyre in 2011, he reached out to me several times over the next few years to see how I was faring.
He was always wise, caring and warm. I was touched such a busy man with challenging health problems would take the time with an ABC ‘stranger’.
Every now and then we chatted away via Twitter. I remember a lovely chat about his mum’s Hereford cattle — would she switch to black angus, I asked. No way!
What couldn’t he talk about with authority?
Mark was a lot more than a great journalist. He was an incredibly kind man.