Annie Mac Opens Up About “Tokenism” Throughout Her Multi-Decade Radio Career

On July 30th, legendary voice of BBC Radio 1 Annie Mac will step away from her current role after a distinguished 17-year run. 

The announcement, which Mac delivered in April, was met with surprise. However, she quickly qualified her intent was not to retire from music, or even from radio necessarily. "I will be coming back to radio broadcasting when the time is right," Mac said at the time. 

In more recent comments to Radio Times, Mac articulated a similar sentiment. "I love the BBC and hope at some point I can come back," she said. "It’s not walking away from radio, it’s just walking away from that slot."

As for why she is departing, Mac attributes the move to a confluence of factors, but mainly suggests she'd prefer to have the time to focus on her family life and her two sons.

In the same interview, Mac, reflecting on her near two decades of experience in the industry, noted that she had felt tokenized to varying degrees throughout her career. She was often acutely aware, she said, of the fact that she was the lone prominent female voice in her work environment. She says she has been pleased with the recent shift to elevate female professionals throughout the music industry, but notes there's still much progress to be made. 

As for her thoughts on BBC Radio 1's role in that movement specifically, Mac appreciated the fact that the company decided to backfill her role with another female talent, Clara Amfo. “I’m very encouraged at Radio 1 with the commitment they have to women. Clara getting the show that I’m leaving is the most sensible and inspired choice," Mac said. "It’s great, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Amfo will take over Mac's role in hosting BBC's Future Sounds beginning in September.