My Mentor: David Banks on Kelvin Mackenzie
'He taught me tabloid layout and how to dodge Murdoch's calls'
Monday 04 December 2006
Kelvin and I are roughly the same age, both rather loud and foul-mouthed. Until he bought a radio station or two and, rather annoyingly, became a multi-millionaire we had similar careers in media.
But MacFrenzy DID introduce me to Rupert Murdoch, the United States and, ultimately, to editorship. Along the way he made it possible for me to travel the world and to edit papers in New York, Sydney and London.
We met (frequently) at the bar of the London Press Club in the early Seventies, me at the Mirror, he at the Express. As well as ambition, we had Tony Hancock in common and would reprise chunks of Half Hour scripts to the irritation of similarly drunken colleagues.
I was assistant chief sub on the Daily Mirror in 1979 when Kelvin called from New York and persuaded me to join him on the NY Post. I was a good sub but had no layout knowledge at all; almost overnight he taught me tabloid presentation and how to dodge Rupert's calls before decamping to edit The Sun and leaving his "pupil" as managing editor of the Post.
Two years later, striving to hit the 4.5million sales mark at The Sun, he lured me back to London and exposed me to the genius of legendary Sun news execs like Roy Pittila and Tom Petrie.
He persuaded Murdoch that I was the ideal man to front up the Wapping revolution. I was sent to the States where I learnt how to typeset by computer - probably the first British journalist to do so - then Kelvin brought me back to train and lead his "Dirty Dozen": the men and women who kept News International's titles rolling when the printers walked in 1986.
In my view, Kelvin is the greatest populist media marketeer of this - or possibly any - age, which was why I quit newspapers in 1998 to front Kelvin's Talk Radio breakfast show with Nick Ferrari, another of his "boys". It only lasted 18 months - he's as good at firing as he is at hiring!
David Banks is a former editor of the 'Daily Mirror'
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