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Bill Mack, radio legend, dies at 88

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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.

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.”

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