Bill Mack, radio legend, dies at 88

Longtime country music disc jockey Bill Mack, whose “Blue” became a hit for LeAnn Rimes and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Country Music Song of the Year, died Friday at age 88, his son said.

In a Facebook message, Mack’s son Billy Mack Smith said his father died Friday of COVID-19 but had underlying health conditions.

Mack’s “Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show” overnight program on clear channel WBAP-AM in Fort Worth kept truckers entertained for decades and earned him a place in the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.

Mack later hosted programs on satellite radio and the syndicated “Country Crossroads. He also wrote “Drinking Champagne,” a song covered by George Strait, Dean Martin and Willie Nelson.

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Inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, Mack is known as the “Dean of Country Music Disc Jockeys” and “Radio’s Midnight Cowboy.”

In a story in the Fort Worth Business Press story on Mack in 2003, Mack said he recalled a longing to become a radio announcer growing up in the Panhandle town of Shamrock. “I was just a kid when they started building the first station in my town. I was hanging around with the construction guys, wanting a job real bad,” Mack says. “The station manager wouldn’t even talk to me until they opened, and then just called one day to offer me a job. I had an afternoon radio show called the 1580 Club. That’s as far on the right of the dial as you can go, only 250 watts, but to me, it was a network! There was no country music on that station, just Sinatra, Como, the pop songs, and I loved it.”