“I have always planned to die at the microphone,” Phillip Adams told his ABC Late Night Live audience on Monday night. “But that would be a bit unfair to the cleaners,” he added before announcing the end of his run hosting the Radio National nightly talk show.
“I have decided to leave with what’s left of my own steam with decades of happy memories,” he continued.
The departure of Phillip Adams coincides with a major refresh of ABC Radio that has seen the arrival of management from the world of commercial FM radio. That started with the appointment of former Nova programming chief Ben Latimer. More recently the former head of content for Triple M, Mike Fitzpatrick, was appointed to a key role.
Adams will get to do a farewell tour with the late-night slot continuing until the end of June 2024.
On Tuesday the ABC released a statement formally announcing Adams’ departure:
Adams joined the ABC in 1991 when he took up the Late Night Live microphone for Radio National. His trademark wit and incisive commentary quickly cemented it as the benchmark for sharp analysis of current events and the hottest debates in politics, science, philosophy and the arts.
Over the past 33 years he has interviewed thousands of the world’s most influential politicians, historians, archaeologists, novelists, theologians, economists, philosophers and compelling conversationalists.
‘Resigning increases your popularity’
Adams has remained a prolific user of Twitter and he also shared news of his departure there. He was subsequently inundated with tributes from listeners wishing him well. As he posted some of the comments, Adams said: “Clearly resigning increases your popularity. Must do it more often. Thanks for the kind words.”
ABC head of RN Cath Dwyer paid tribute to his contribution and legacy. “Phillip is an exceptional broadcaster and public intellectual, who intrinsically understands the unique intimacy of radio as a medium,” she said.
“Over the past 30 years he’s interviewed thousands of the world’s most influential thinkers and kept us all entertained with his wit and intellect. There’s no one quite like him and no other show quite like Late Night Live. He is much loved by RN audiences we look forward to celebrating his extraordinary contribution to the Australian conversation over the coming months.”
Richard Fidler and Laura Tingle on Adams
ABC Radio colleague Richard Fidler said: “Phillip has served the nation as a columnist, film producer, ad man and farmer, but his greatest talent has always been as a broadcaster. With LNL, he brought informality, humanity and humour to great and weighty subjects, and a melodious voice that sat beautifully in the night air of the Australian bush, city and suburbs.”
Regular Monday night Late Night Live guest and ABC staff elected director Laura Tingle said: “For more than 15 years (neither of us can quite remember how long) Phillip Adams and I have had a chat on a Monday night about the weird and wonderful world of Australian politics.
“It’s been such a privilege to be part of the Little Wireless Program, and to talk to a bloke with the brain the size of a planet, for all this time.
“Even when he is being ‘Oh Phillip!’ infuriating, or luring me into saying things I probably shouldn’t.
“I know from all the people who stop me in the street how big a presence LNL is in so many people’s lives. And how beloved PA is by the audience.
“What a kaleidoscope of issues and stories he has guided us through over more than three decades on this program.
“How on earth will we get by without him.”
About Phillip Adams AO, FAHSA, FRSA
Largely self-educated after leaving school in his mid-teens, he has honorary doctorates from AFTRS as well as Sydney, Griffith, Macquarie and Edith Cowan Universities and the University of South Australia. He has authored more than 20 books, and his writing has appeared in some of the most influential publications in Australia, London and New York. He continues to write a weekly column for The Weekend Australian Magazine.
Adams was a foundation member of the Australia Council and chairman of the Film, Radio and Television Board. He has chaired the Australian Film Institute, the Australian Film Commission, Film Australia and the National Australia Day Council. He is a former president of the Victorian Council for the Arts and was foundation chairman of the Commission for the Future. Currently he chairs the Advisory Board of the Centre for the Mind at Sydney University and the Australian National University.
Adams has been awarded two Orders of Australia, was named Australian Humanist of the Year 1987, Republican of the Year 2005, and received the Longford Award, the film industry’s highest accolade, in 1981, the same year that he was appointed Senior Anzac Fellow. He is a recipient of the Henry Lawson Arts Award (1987) an inductee in the Media Hall of Fame and in 1998, the National Trust elected him one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures.
Phillip Adams lives on a cattle property in the NSW Hunter Valley.