by Mike Hitch
Australia’s most influential radio broadcaster and infamous shock-jock, Alan Jones will retire from 2GB at the end of May after doctors advised him his workload was “detrimental” to his health.
79-year-old Jones announced his retirement on Tuesday 12 May during his radio show on Sydney’s 2GB and Brisbane’s 4BC to millions of conservative listeners and politicians, ending his 35-year career at the end of May.
During his career, Jones amassed a record-breaking 226 consecutive wins in the ratings after his breakfast program topped the Harbour City’s radio ratings since he began in the breakfast timeslot in 2001.
“We are living in the world of coronavirus,” Jones told listeners during his Breakfast show.
“The most repeated statement we hear is ‘we must listen to the experts’. Well, the experts are telling me in no uncertain terms, and not for the first time I might add, ‘continuing with the present workload is seriously detrimental to your health’.
“I have listened to the experts and I am taking this opportunity to indicate to my radio family that I will be retiring from radio at the end of this month.”
Jones’ departure comes earlier than planned with his retirement from 2GB initially set for the end of his contract in June 2021.
Politicians such as Tony Abbott have even taken to Twitter to share their disappointment over the news of Jones’ early retirement.
“Our national conversation will be different and poorer without @AlanJones on radio every morning,” Abbott Tweeted.
Despite Nine Radio paying Jones $4 million a year, Jones’ Breakfast show had suffered an advertising boycott which lost the show 50 per cent of its revenue last year.
His program was put under review by what was then Macquarie Media after Jones lost hundreds of advertisers in the wake of comments made about the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.
In August last year Jones said Scott Morrison should “shove a sock” down Ardern’s throat, causing 2GB and 4BC to haemorrhage advertisers and have management scold him publicly for his offensive comments.
Nine Entertainment’s chief executive, Hugh Marks, iterated that Jones’ Breakfast show was “less than 10% of the revenue of the radio business and a fraction of the revenue of Nine.”
“Alan’s a good broadcaster, Macquarie have made plenty of comments about their relationship and recent events so I won’t go into that, but yes, of course, that business can survive the loss of any of its talent,” Marks said after Nine acquired the remaining shares in Macquarie Media.
Rumours surrounding Jones’ sexuality have driven public media discussions for many years, with many speculating that Jones remained deep in the closet to avoid the risk of losing his conservative fanbase.
In 1988, Jones was arrested in a public toilet in London at Broadwick Street, after two plain-clothed officers noticed Jones enter and spend an unusually long amount of time inside.
At the time, the Thatcher Government was urging Police to remain vigilant about “cottaging” homosexuals congregating in public toilets.
Despite homosexuality being somewhat decriminalised in England during the 60s, Police patrolled public toilets to allegedly protect underage men from coercion or assault.
Jones was arrested and taken to the Mayfair station, where he was charged with “outraging public decency” and “committing an indecent act”.
However, both charges against Jones in 1988 were dismissed.