Doug Graham's live rugby league broadcast gutted
IF YOU have been to a Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League game any time since 2010, chances are you have heard the excitable Doug Graham.
Even if you have not spotted Graham and colleague Graeme Kearns sitting at the small desk draped in 101.3 LifeFM banners at Frank McGuren Field or McKittrick Park, it is almost impossible to have not heard the voluntary rugby league caller's voice.
But the days of hearing Graham relay the on-field action on the airwaves are over if the pair do not find major sponsors.
Graham was told the news on Wednesday when he went into the Prince St office to prepare for this weekend's opening round call at South Grafton.
The former fullback was devastated.
"I was almost in tears," Graham said.
"It's something I have held close to my heart for the last few years."
Graham hascalled NRRRL games since the 2010 season, the same year the Grafton Ghosts went through undefeated to claim the minor and major premierships and the Clayton Cup.
He and Kearns, who joined in a season later, struck a devoted following which has grown since day one.
As the sole live broadcasters involved in the NRRRL, the pair has been a staple for fans who tuned into LifeFM's broadcast at 2.45pm every Sunday to hear how the Ghosts, and later the Rebels, were travelling.
That won't happen in Group 2 this season, with Graham, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, explaining the station wants to produce a better product.
"We've been doing it on a very tight budget for the last few years but the station wants to do it better," Graham said.
"They want to have the guys and equipment there to do it properly.
"My sickness has nothing to do with it, and it's nothing to do with money. If they asked me to do it every day for free I would."
Graham's live call of the games was supported by several local businesses over the years, but he said the station required a substantially higher financial input before they revisited the broadcast.
"Pink Petals, Kenny Upton at the Great Northern Hotel and Danny and Irene Grant at DIG The Top Shop on Bent Street have been great supporters," Graham said.
"The figure I've been told we need is about $10,000.
"I'm going to do all I can to find a sponsor because I love what I do."
Graham's love for rugby league means you may still catch him at games, though he won't call what he sees for live radio.
Instead he will watch with pride as son Mason follows in his footsteps by donning the red and white in South Grafton's under-18 side.
"Over the last few years I've gained a lot of friends from doing this and I have to thank the community of Grafton for sticking by us," a tearful Graham said.
"It's something I've held close to my heart and I'll be trying hard to get this broadcast happening."