Kochie announced he would be finishing up on the show this Friday after 21 years on the Sunrise desk, with fill-in host Matt Shirvington taking on his role opposite Natalie Barr.
Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle, Mark shared that it was a 'shock' to find out his friend would be wrapping up his time on the show, telling us he'll 'miss him' but is happy for the host to take on his next chapter.
"Kochie has wanted to wind up for a little while, and we've had a change of management and work had asked him to stay on as long as he could," the sports presenter tells us. "It's not easy for him to leave Sunrise, you know, it's in his blood, it's his DNA, he really did so much to build that show and obviously no one wants him to leave, we don't want him to leave, because it's a ratings machine – 20 years in a row we've been the number one breakfast show, so you don't start pulling that team apart lightly."
How Kochie told him he was leaving Sunrise
Kochie told Mark his news the Sunday before he made the announcement, calling him to drop the bombshell.
"He said, 'Look, I just want to let you know, I've decided this is it, time's up and I'm going to announce it tomorrow,' and I, to be honest, I was in shock, we knew it was coming at some point, but when you actually hear it, it's like, wow this is real, it's really happening. So, it was a real surprise."
Mark continues, "I sit next to that guy every morning for four and a half hours, and honestly, every day's magic, you know, he's just a beautiful man, and he understands people.
"The biggest thing about Kochie, and what makes him different to anyone else, is he really cares for people, and a lot of people say they do, but he actually really is, and he follows up things with people, he reaches out to people in ways you would never imagine."
Mark describes Kochie as "the ultimate mentor, mate and role model all in one, he's just a ripping bloke".
"I will really miss him, I know Nat will really miss him, but we're happy for him, because he's doing what he wants to do now," the presenter adds. "He will put time into his other interests, which don't involve getting up at 3:30 in the morning, and smashing his body in that way."
"You know, it's been wonderful, hand on heart, it's been a privilege to sit beside him and work with him."
However, Mark shared his annoyance at a story released by the Daily Telegraph, suggesting Kochie was told it was time to leave rather than it being his own decision.
"That's absolute BS, it just didn't play like that, and Seven, after all this time, wouldn't do that to him," he tells us. "The reality is [Kochie] is a great performer and while he's there, the show is number one, so that's madness. No one pushes out someone who's got a number-one rating show. That really annoyed me."
'Proudest achievement of my life'
While Sunrise plays a huge part in Mark's life, the presenter has spent the last 15 years involved with the Tour De Cure charity, which has raised millions of dollars for cancer research over the years since his involvement.
On Saturday night, Mark MC'd Tour de Cure's Annual Gala Ball in Sydney, raising a massive $1.5 million to fund research into different cancers, including neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumour found in children under five, which accounts for more deaths of young children than any other cancer.
Mark's involvement in the charity came when he decided he wanted to do something that wasn't about him and was for someone else.
After some research, he pitched the idea of a long-distance bike ride to raise money for the charity while also taking Sunrise viewers along for the 10-day ride by presenting the news on the road.
"At that time, I think the year before they raised about $300,000, first year we got them with Sunrise, we got them over $1.5million, and this year we will raise close to $20m for cancer research, which is pretty awesome," he explains.
"It's the proudest achievement of my life I reckon," Mark says. "It's just such a good thing you know, it's the one thing that I can really make a difference in and I don't get anything back from it other than just the satisfaction of helping and I sort of love that and I've become hugely committed to it."
Mark now has a personal connection with the charity, telling us, "Up until recently, we had no cancer in the family and now my mum's having chemo for ovarian cancer. So now all of a sudden it all means so much more to us."
"It feels like we've sort of paid it forward a little bit, we've helped get some great research done and now I'm hoping that the research being done at the moment will help mum more, and I think a lot of our people are in a similar boat. They're helping fund research that will help either themselves with cancer they're dealing with, or with someone close to them. So, we've all got a reason to be in the game."
Mark adds that his mum is very proud of his achievements with Tour de Cure, revealing she and his father helped out as volunteers during the early years of the bike ride.
"They've done their bit as well, so it's pretty special," he says.
Speaking about the research happening thanks to donations to Tour de Cure, Mark says their researchers have discovered 125 breakthroughs in cancer research.
"To me, to have funded one breakthrough would have been amazing, but to have 125 breakthroughs to change the course of cancer treatment, and cancer therapy - they change lives basically, and at the end of the day, we're saving lives and changing lives, and that just puts the rest of what I do during the day into perspective," he says.
Find out more about Tour de Cure and how to donate here.
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