Comic relief: Voice of Cavs keeps 'em laughing
You've probably heard Mac McDonald's sports commentary on AM 1070. What you might not realize is that despite his constant presence there, he doesn't work for WINA. He's actually an employee of the UVA athletic department that has designated WINA and 3WV to broadcast UVA sports content.
McDonald's job is to do the carrying.
"I'm on the outside looking in," he says. "I'm just talent leased by the University."
They seem to need him for more than just his sports insight, however. "I'm kind of the comic relief guy," he jokes.
"I literally have one of the greatest jobs in the world," McDonald says. Since he's getting paid for the same sports play-by-play that most people would do quite passionately for free, few would argue with that assessment.
It comes at a price, though. "It's a 4:30am alarm everyday," he laments. "It sucks."
And because McDonald also records short spots to be played on other stations in the region, sometimes he rises even earlier.
"Because I try to be timely, I might wait for a women's game the night before to be over," he says. "Then I'll go in to the station at 4:30 and be recording a spot by 5am so other stations can have it by 5:30."
Rising before the crack of dawn can become a constant ritual for some sports.
"I had three days off in seven months during the basketball and football seasons," he says. That's a whole lotta yappin'.
McDonald is also the voice– and, well, mascot– of the Mac McDonald Invitational, an annual charity golf tournament at Birdwood on April 25.
"I thought it was kind of a joke at first," he says, recalling his surprise at being asked to lend his name to the event. But he agreed, and five years later the tournament is still going strong.
"We did $25,000 the first year," he says, "and this year we're on track to do $100,000."
The associated auction is expected to bring in a large portion of the goal with items like an electric violin from Boyd Tinsley and a weekend in LA with Howie Long on the set of a Fox Sports NFL Sunday pre-game show.
All the proceeds benefit the UVA Children's Hospital.
McDonald is happy to help. "They have to raise 94 percent of their budget," he says, "because they get only 6 percent from the state."
The night before the tournament, McDonald helps host another fundraising event, whose attendees honor the Children's Hospital patient who has made the most striking recovery of the year. The gravity of the event is tempered by a healthy dose of idiocy– it's called the "Bad Pants Bash."
"Guys wear tuxedo jackets and shirts and then wear the dumbest pants they can find," McDonald explains.
Looks like he's right about the comic relief.
Why here? It may be the best place to live in the country.
What's worst about living here? Parking– almost everywhere
Favorite hangout? My sunroom, and any 19th hole
Most overrated virtue: My legs
People would be surprised to know?: In 34 years, I've missed only one broadcast assignment, and that was due to my father's death.
What would you change about yourself? I'd love to have hair.
Proudest accomplishment? Dropped 50 pounds in 1986
People find most annoying about you? I think my jokes are hilarious, but I'm not sure others do.
Whom do you admire? My wife and daughter, for living with me
Favorite book: Good Walk Spoiled, John Feinstein
Subject that causes you to rant: Power loss during a little wind and rain
Biggest 21st century thrill: The success of my charity golf tournament and singing with the Houserockers
Biggest 21st century creep-out: My golf swing
What do you drive? The Brown Auto Group's "Mac Drive of the Month." Thanks, Kenny!
In your car CD player right now: John Lee Hooker's Forever Gold
Next journey: Still have not seen the Grand Canyon or the baseball Hall of Fame
Most trouble you've ever been in: Lied to my mom and dad
Regret: Not seeing my dad right before he died.
Favorite comfort food: Breyer's Cookie Dough ice cream
Always in your refrigerator? Beer, wine, and onions
Must-see TV: The Masters, every year!
Favorite cartoon: Yosemite Sam and Foghorn/Leghorn
Describe a perfect day: Golf with friends, then cooking dinner for my family
Walter Mitty fantasy: Playing Pebble Beach with Clint Eastwood and Joe Pesci
Who'd play you in the movie? I would. No one else would understand the part.
Most embarrassing moment: Getting an eraser stuck in my nose in the third grade
Best advice you ever got: My mom and dad told me to follow my dream.
Favorite bumper sticker? Can't repeat it, but it was about women's rugby.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO