Legendary Country DJ & Songwriter Bill Mack Dies (COVID-related)

As a broadcasting legend and award-winning songwriter, Bill Mack brought the beauty and love of country music into many homes and big rig cabs for many decades, and has now passed on to that big radio booth in the sky. He died Friday morning (7-31) at the age of 88 due to underlying health conditions complicated by COVID-19, according to his son and fellow broadcaster, “Billy” Mack Smith III.

“He was an amazing father, grandfather, great grandfather and husband to my mom,” says Billy Mack Smith, who is currently the program director and an on-air personality at 93.1 KSTV in Stephenville, TX. “I’m blessed to have had not only a great dad but my best friend as well.”

Born June 4th, 1932, there are many accolades from Bill Mack’s legendary career on radio that you could highlight, but you have to start with his overnight trucking shows that kept many big rig operators awake, alert, and between the lines broadcasting from the mighty WBAP out of Fort Worth that during its heyday, could almost be heard coast to coast on its Clear Channel signal. First commenced in 1969 and called The Country Roads Show and later the Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show, it was arguably just as instrumental in tying country and the trucking industry together as any artist or song, and many performers penned and recorded country songs just to be highlighted on the show.

But Bill Mack wasn’t just a bystander to country music. As a songwriter, he penned tunes that went onto be covered by the likes of George Jones, Ray Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even Dean Martin. He might be best known in the songwriting realm for penning “Blue,” which became the big breakout for DFW-native LeAnn Rimes. The song went on to win the 1996 Grammy for Best Country Song, LeAnn won the Grammy Best Country Performance with the song, the ACMs Awards gave it Song of the Year, and it was nominated for the same distinction by the CMAs. Bill wrote and performed the song himself first in 1958.

But along with all the big accolades were decades of contributions from behind the microphone, sharing his love for country music with the masses, and later in life, preserving traditional country on the airwaves. For a while he worked on one of the “X” border blaster radio stations in Mexico (XERF), blasting country tunes all across the United States before returning to WBAP. He also became a close friend to many artists, interviewing legends on a regular basis—folks like Roy Clark and Waylon Jennings. He was know as a close friend of Willie Nelson and many more country artists.

Later Bill Mack would transition from WBAP to SiriusXM on their Open Road channel dedicated to truckers. In 2011 when the satellite radio provider merged multiple stations and edged Bill Mack out, it left many in country music angry, but he still remained a major figure behind-the-scenes, well-beloved for his many years in service to the music.

Bill Mack was also heavily decorated over his career. He was inducted into the Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame in 1982, was named to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2000, he won the media category award given by the Grand Ole Opry.

Bill Mack is survived by his wife, Cynthia, their three children Misty Dawn, Billy Mack III, Sunday Renee, daughter Debbie, and many grandchildren.

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