Alan Jones: Broadcaster and Enigmatic
by Greg Tingle
Jones is difficult man to typecast. In any event he
is arguably Australias most successful broadcaster.
before he assumed the number one position in the Sydney
radio broadcasting market, with Radio
2GB, he was a successful world class rugby
coach, and speech writer for former Australian Prime
Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
difficult to know if Jones success was orchestrated
or has been a series of lucky breaks, although he
claims it was never part of a master plan.
is no doubt, Jones has been successful in the classroom,
on the footy field, in the political arena, and most
definitely broadcasting, where he most often leads
the pack, be it at Southern
Cross Broadcastings 2UE or Macquaries
Radio Networks, 2GB.
one can argue with Jones success, but there
has been many a heated discussion about the way Jones
goes about things, in his own unique and controversial,
confronting style. In fact, he has made many enemies
through his very public life, and at times seems to
enjoy belittling and besmirching reputations, if he
Jones staff can be in the firing line. Media
Man Australia has been told by staff who wish
to remain anonymous, of many office outbursts and
also said of Jones that he used his power and influence
at times to relentlessly "rubbish" those
who fall out of his favour. This can result in his
victims reputation being forever tarnished.
maintains his work ethic is largely responsible for
his success. This philosophy he gained from his mother.
Its difficult to argue about Jones work
ethic formula. Even today, Jones is reported
to rise at 2am in preparation for his 6am slot on
2GB. Jones is known to reply to all mail contact,
around 5000 per year, and with his popularity and
exposure, 2am starts may be the only way to maintain
graduate of Queensland
and Oxford Universities,
Jones spent three years as speech writer to former
Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
later went on to coach the Australian
Rugby team from 1984 till 1988. In fact,
out of 30 tests, his team won 23 matches, tied three
and lost four, each by only one point. His coaching
at Balmain Tigers Rugby
League Club, wasn't nearly as successful, with
many pointing the accusing finger at Jones being the
prime reason for the club's decline on-field.
football success is known internationally. In
England, The Times described Jones as
having the most analytical brain ever in charge
of a national rugby side.
returning to Australia from the triumphant England
tour, Jones was invited to deliver the Australia
Day Address as Guest of Honour of the Australia
Day Council at the National
Press Club in Canberra. Jones reputation
as a formidable public speaker had already become
1989, Jones was elected to the Australian Sports Hall
of Fame. He is also Deputy Chairperson of the
Australian Sports Commission
and Deputy Chairman of the New
South Wales Institute of Sport.
1985 saw Jones join radio station, 2UE,
as their morning talkback radio host, after successfully
honing his broadcasting skills promoting his rugby
team over many years. The signing with 2UE came about
in a most interesting fashion. One Sunday, after
Jones returned from winning the Bledisloe
Cup, John Brennan,
2UEs Sports Director at the time, telephoned
Jones to advise that John Laws
had just left the station and his time slot needed
to be filled. Brennan asked if Jones would be
interested in doing an audition. Even though
Jones had talked on air with Brennan many times, over
the course of rugby tests, they had never met. Brennan
said, You were great on air during the tour.
Do you think you could come over and have a bit of
a dry run? When? Jones replied.
Four hours later Jones was at 2UE speaking to a fictitious
audience about health policy and education.
Two days later, 2UE executives arrived at Jones
place of work, the NSW Employers
Federation, to take him to a local Chinese
restaurant for lunch.
offered Jones that morning programme, but co-hosting
with a woman. 2UE felt he was too inexperienced
to handle a prime time spot on his own. Jones
had doubts about the offer and spoke to Brennan who
advised Jones to accept the offer only if he was to
be the sole host of the programme. Two days
later a deal was signed on a paper serviette for $130,000.
Jones recollects, I thought that was the
gross domestic product of Australia, Malaysia, Great
Britain and America put together. I just couldnt
believe it. This is a dream, I thought.
I went to air three days later while I was still heading
up the NSW Employers Federation.
Thats how my radio career started, one continuous
years into his role, in 1988 he moved to the earlier
breakfast time slot of 5.30am to 9am.
has never been short on awards or energy. From
1990 to 1993, and from 1995 to 1997, he was awarded
by the radio industry, the prestigious award of Australian
Radio Talk Personality of the Year.
2002, Jones started having problems with his then
employer, Southern Cross Broadcasting.
He was said to be unhappy with their management style.
It was by no means the first time that Jones has fallen
out of favour with authority.
the owner of the Macquarie Radio Network, had tried
to lure many personalities to gain respectable ratings
for 2GB. He elected to approach Jones, because
Macquarie had been going south, since
Singleton had bought it.
knows that there has been a heavy price to pay for
his programmes success. He has attracted
his share of unkind media attention over the years,
culminating in the recent cash for comment
inquiry by the Australian Broadcasting
Authority. That was a campaign
which owed nothing to the truth, Jones bitterly
remembers. He maintains no-one with whom he
had a contractual relationship, ever asked him to
say anything for payment.
all of Jones success, he is not complacent.
While a few may believe he has an over supply of confidence,
there is also the normal trait of doubt.
admits, There is an aspect of confidence to
me, but theres also a very big factor of self
doubt. Buy thats good. Its
good to be nervous. Its good to have an
element of fear. Its good to be frightened
of failure, so long as its not unreasonable.
It drives you forward. People only get into
trouble when there is a dramatic gap between the tasks
they are set and their capacity to perform them.
If your capacity is inferior to your expectation of
yourself, then you are going to fail. Ive
always been quite good at matching what I can expect
of myself with the task that Ive set for myself.
But I never think; where is this task going to take
me? Because Ive always believed if I do well
today, Im going to do well tomorrow; if I do
the homework now, Im going to pass tomorrows
exam. And life is just one continuous examination.
fact, Jones has an interesting attitude to Australians
viewpoints on successful people. No-one
ever says a decent word about John
Howard. But thats not unusual because
no-one ever said a decent world about Keating,
Hawke or the previous prime ministers.
Poor Shane Warne.
He is a cricketer, yet the media expectation is that
he should act like a United Nations diplomat.
enigmatic man has always attracted gossip and discussion
due to his flamboyant lifestyle and highly visible
Jones admirers, his popularity remains undiminished
through broadcasting tribunal investigations, adverse
media stories and personal attacks.
and controversy have always gone hand in hand for
Alan Jones and he wouldnt have it any other
* - RadioInfo, Steve OHearn, (Director)