Alan Jones showed how to make money from political opinion before Fox
After Sydney radio broadcaster and conservative warrior Alan Jones revealed on Tuesday morning that he was retiring from radio, fans, powerful and obscure, began calling the 2GB switchboard to express respect, love and disappointment, reports The AFR’s Aaron Patrick.
Scott Morrison praised Jones’ patriotism. Former prime minister Tony Abbott, competitor John Laws and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian wished him good luck.
Anthony Albanese gave up some love from the left.
“You have taken on powerful interests,” the Labor leader told Jones.
“On infrastructure and inland rail I just hope you keep an interest there because you have been prepared to take on vested interests and stand up for your views. You have been prepared to engage.”
Albanese’s praise illustrated two crucial facts that help explain why Jones is regarded as the most powerful broadcaster in the nation: his populist conservatism may not be ideologically consistent, but he is so influential that no serious politician can ignore it, either Liberal or Labor.
With a knock on his door, radio king Alan Jones ends a record reign
Alan Jones was still the most dominant voice in Australian broadcasting – and was barely six months into an $8m, two-year contract – when he began contemplating calling time on his 35-year career in radio, report The Australian’s Leo Shanahan and Steve Jackson.
The undisputed king of the airwaves suspected that his card had been marked by his new bosses. He knew his days were numbered.
In January, Nine Radio chief Tom Malone met with 2GB talent following the full takeover of the former Macquarie Network.
The Australian understands that at that time Jones indicated to Malone that he might want to leave the station earlier than the June 2021 expiry date of his most recent, most lucrative contract.
Increasingly concerned about his health and exhausted by the infighting at 2GB that had almost seen him driven out in 2019, Jones was ready to walk.
Jones maintains he had no role in choosing Fordham as his replacement but the decision pleased him, particularly as he is a fan (Fordham’s brother is also his agent and the family are old friends) and had the added benefit of preventing Ray Hadley inheriting his spot.
The alarm clock sounded on his future on Friday, May 1, when Malone knocked on Jones’s door at his Southern Highlands property.
Time was up: Jones’s top-rating breakfast show, unbeaten in a record 226 surveys, was no longer bringing in enough revenue in the wake of a series of controversies.
Nine was prepared to pay out more than $4m to the end of Jones’s contract in the middle of 2021. The bosses wanted Jones to go with dignity but they did need him to go.
‘He’s utterly ruthless’: inside the life of broadcaster Alan Jones
What’s it really like to be eaten for breakfast by radio’s ‘500-pound gorilla’? The Weekend Australian‘s Greg Bearup sat down with Alan Jones in late 2017 … and it didn’t take long for him to find out:
He’s intimidating. I feel like a mediocre medium-paced bowler defending a modest total; a long, sorry afternoon in the sun is looming. I know Jones was born into a family of poor dairy farmers at Acland, northwest of Toowoomba, so I lob up an easy question about his childhood, hoping to find my line and length. He belts it out of the park. “I don’t want to go into any of that,” he says crossly between slurps. “Mate, everything about that has been written a thousand times before.” I trudge back to my mark.
What you hear on radio and see on television is what you get in person – the Alan Jones Show is only ever off-air when he’s asleep. There’s no neutral, no reverse – he’s lived life with the pedal to the metal. Alan Jones has only one gear.
Jones always pads away queries about his age but company records reckon he’ll soon be 77. He’s in fair nick for his age, especially for someone who probably should be dead. In the past decade he’s had a brain tumour, melanoma and prostate cancer. And then, in June, he was knock, knock, knockin’… “Technically I died,” he says, picking up a chop and working his way along the bone. “Heart stopped and all that stuff.”
Nine secures 12 month non-compete deal for departing breakfast host
In an interview with The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff yesterday from his home in the NSW Southern Highlands, after a day of high drama, Jones, 79, says a threat by his doctor that he could drop dead “walking down the street” that was the final straw in prompting the man who could make or break Prime Ministers, Premiers and CEOs to walk away from radio.
But Jones’s doctors weren’t the only ones in conversations with the 2GB breakfast king. It was a dialogue with Nine bosses in recent times that ultimately facilitated Tuesday’s bombshell departure by Jones, 13 months ahead of the expiry of his contract.
The departing breakfast king will face no financial penalty from 2GB’s owner Nine for quitting his $4 million a year, two-year contract early under the terms of a deal hammered out between the two parties.
It is understood he now faces only one key caveat: that he will be locked down by Nine until the end of June next year from joining any radio venture that competes in any way with 2GB, or any other station in the Nine radio network around Australia.
The hashtag that shook the foundations of Alan Jones’ power
Jenna Price in The Sydney Morning Herald:
In 2012, I dreamt of the day Alan Jones would retire or be sacked. Jones had attacked the then prime minister Julia Gillard for months. He said women leaders were destroying the joint. He name-checked Clover Moore and Christine Nixon as other destroyers.
Those first comments were laughable and made the perfect meme. As social commentator Jane Caro tweeted at the time, “Got time on my hands tonight so thought I’d spend it coming up with new ways of ‘destroying the joint’ being a woman & all. Ideas welcome.” A few moments later, Melbourne plastic surgeon Jill Tomlinson started the #destroythejoint hashtag. While I was busily enlisting people for an old-fashioned protest outside his home, Sally McManus, a union prodigy and now ACTU secretary, started a Facebook page, called it Destroy the Joint, and invited people to connect to fight sexism and misogyny. Within two hours, the page had a couple of hundred likes.
The groundwork for a phenomenon whose power no one – least of all Jones – would realise was laid.
A few weeks later at a Young Liberals function, Jones made the claim that Gillard’s father had died of shame. Destroy the Joint made its first call to action. On September 29, 2012, McManus with friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers, turned Destroy the Joint from ephemeral social media messaging into a movement with real results.
Two weeks later, there was zero advertising on his show. Jones recovered, more or less, but that campaign weakened his power.
Loved, loathed and feared, no one could ignore the Jones phenomenon
No one could brow-beat a politician on air, or off, quite like Alan Jones, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Deborah Jones.
“Deep down I reckon a lot of politicians hated him, or regarded him as a massive inconvenience,” one well-placed industry insider said this week. “But they knew they had to play ball, and the very few that didn’t usually didn’t last long.”
It was his listeners for whom Jones reserved unwavering courtesy – the hundreds of thousands of rusted-on supporters who tuned into his weekday breakfast broadcasts decade after decade to deliver him a near unbeaten record as king of breakfast talkback.
Jones relished his image as the champion of the underdog and the battler, going into war against progressive elites. “It tickled his fancy, that part of the role, coming as he did from a conservative background,” says Sky News stablemate and former Labor heavyweight, Graham Richardson.
An enraged Alan Jones gave me a first-hand insight into his power
He is a man best known for his hatreds, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline.
It doesn’t matter if you are an Alan Jones listener or not, you can still rattle off a list of the things the famous broadcaster loathes.
Moderate dislike is not his thing. In no particular order, Jones, who retired today, has spent his 35 years on air hating emissions reduction, the climate warming hoax, cycleways, the Greens, Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore, former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, environmental science, Malcolm Turnbull, Julia Gillard, the temerity of anyone who thought it inappropriate to advertise a horse race on the Opera House sails, Opera House CEO Louise Herron, former Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle, Greta Thunberg, Jacinda Ardern and coal seam gas.
You will notice the list is over-burdened with women – overall he seemed to have little use for them, and the powerful ones he especially loathed.
In 2011, I was working in the Canberra press gallery when the campaign to “axe the tax” – the Gillard government’s carbon price – was picking up steam.
Jones travelled to Canberra to address the “Convoy of No Confidence” – a ragtag collection of truckers who had driven to Canberra to protest against the “carbon tax”.
The atmosphere was hostile. After observing for a while, I walked over to Jones, who was at the back of the stage listening as someone else addressed the crowd, and asked him if he had been paid to emcee the rally.
He was instantly enraged. He called me a “grub” as he leaned over me, face reddening, asking how I could look myself in the mirror. Soon he reclaimed the microphone and used it to shout my name, and that of my press gallery colleague, David Lipson, to the crowd. The crowd started yelling and booing at us, and demanded we come on stage to defend ourselves.
Race, women, climate: the recurring themes of Alan Jones’s career
When Alan Jones suggested Scott Morrison should shove a sock down the throat of the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, last year it was the final straw for many in a 35-year radio career that has seen the divisive Sydney personality survive scandal time and time again, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.
Jones’s radio ratings were consistently so high and his political connections so impeccable he hung on to his career despite uttering numerous racial slurs, making misogynist comments about female leaders, raising the ire of broadcasting authorities and attracting eye-watering defamation payouts and legal fees.
But nine months after he apologised to Ardern for “not choosing his words carefully”, the anger about his attacks on her and other high-profile women – including the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and the Opera House chief, Louise Herron – failed to die.