When Hitz Supersized McHappy Day

Over the years, I did a few McHappy Days in community radio. In 1992, the ECB FM team helped out at Nunawading McDonald’s with Greg Evans (Perfect Match) and Ian McFadyen (Comedy Company). Many of ECB’s Night Crew (under 25s) went on to participate in Hitz FM. So it wasn’t a big surprise, when Hitz did a bit of McHappying of our own.

Time to catch up with the fans

Following Hitz’s huge Summer 93/94 broadcast, we were very keen to keep interacting with the public. We just had to take ourselves TO the public – now that we weren’t onair. So we assembled two teams for McHappy Day 1994, and sent them to Melbourne’s Eastern and South-Eastern suburbs. It was a great day out.

But in 1995, the Hitz crew decided to really UPSIZE our involvement. Four teams of volunteers. Not 10 stores. Not 15. Twenty One stores. 21…. in one day. Madness.

Gabe McGrath, Sarah Foley and an un-named TTFM presenter

Four compass points

The four Hitz FM teams went in different directions, starting ‘out far’ and making their way towards the centre of Melbourne. Each team was equipped with their own boombox – complete with a 90 minute tape of Hitz classics to blast out.

The Hitz teams at McHappy Day included announcers, newsreaders, phone staff… pretty much everyone at the station!

Hitz volunteers and the then-premier Jeff Kennett – at Hawthorn McDonalds.

The stars were out

The Hitz crew ended up working alongside sporting stars, TV stars, and in the case of our Eastern team – the current state premier Jeff Kennett. We also bumped into a few announcers from the larger FM stations, but everyone was friendly on a day with a strong community focus.

Volunteers such as Hitz’s ‘Big Voice Guy’ (Simon Kirby) got to work assembling Big Macs, alongside morning show announcer Kel McWilliam and news director Julie Doyle. Admin queen Sarah Foley got to work in the drivethru. Hitz President Andrew Gyopar soon perfected the art of the Sundae. Whereas my icecream/fudge combos were a little more… out there..

Gabe McGrath, in between sessions of mucking up Sundaes AND customer orders at the till

Tiring work

By the end of the day, we were all quite exhausted. We’d all done at least 5 stores each. And had nothing but admiration for the staff who can do all these tasks with perfection, day in – day out.

Hitz FM volunteers helped out at a number of charitable events over the years, but McHappy Day 1995 – was surely one of the biggest. After all, who would have suspected faxing every McDonald’s in metropolitan Melbourne to offer our help… would lead to almost all of them saying ‘yes’ !

The legacy of Hitz at McHappy day

In future years, Hitz FM continued their work on McHappy day to help charities, have fun and re-engage with the audience.

But I don’t know if any of us EVER perfected those damn Sundaes.

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Author: Gabe McGrath

Gabe McGrath is a radio creative and freelance writer. He helped set up 89.9 Hitz FM Melbourne in the 90s. This youth radio station caused a sensation and 30 years later many a 90s kid will smile when 'Hitz' is mentioned. Gabe is working on a book about that era and now blogs about Hitz Melbourne. GabeMcGrath.com includes tonnes of streaming audio recordings, photos, stories and behind-the-scenes info.

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