Alan Jones: The Power, The Passion, The Performer! – Part 2

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Yesterday on Radio Today we brought you Part One of Alan Jones: The Power, The Passion, The Performance.

Brad March talked to Kyle Sandilands, Wendy Harmer and 2GB’s former Program Director David Kidd. View here.

The story continues with insight from legendary Programmer John Brennan, Jones v Hadley and what’s Jones really worth?

You can’t help but admire talk back ‘King’ Alan Jones on 2GB. You may not often like what he says but the way he delivers his daily breakfast show is nothing short of breathtaking.

He is one of the worlds greatest radio broadcasters and a true radio ‘‘showman“.

Jones’s work ethic is something to be admired, even in a man half his age. Those who work with him, say he works tirelessly and is “a pleasure “ to work with.

Jones is certainly not mellowing with age, in some ways he appears to be getting better. If you are young and working on breakfast radio, you could do a lot worse than studying this man, his show and his work ethic. Same rules apply regardless of what demographic you are appealing to. There’s a lot to be learned from Mr. Jones.

He has survived and thrived in an industry that can burn out people and churn through talent.

He’s also survived life-threatening illness, surviving prostrate cancer and a benign brain tumor.

Legendary radio programmer John Brennan met Jones at a Wallabies farewell function in 1984. He hired Jones for 2UE. Brennan said  “ People asked why Alan Jones ? To me he was incontestably qualified for the job. He possessed a vaulting intellect, was a strong communicator/motivator, he could switch from serious discussion to light-heartedness, was aware of almost anything and he had a background in business, politics, teaching, sport and loved the entertainment world. He wore his heart on his sleeve and he was strong on family life, values and ethics. You didn’t have to be Albert Einstein to recognise such talent “

“The reaction from listeners was extremely encouraging…dynamic, impressive, very balanced, on the ball were just some comments.

I set up the breakfast show as a radio newspaper…hard news, informed comment, talkback and a full-on service of news and sport.

He quickly became the electronic town hall meeting place. He analysed and disected stories in meticulous detail and it became appointment listening. We began preparing at 2.30am on air at 5.30am – only three of us. Anne Lindfield, a star assistant who had worked with me at 2SM, Alan and yours truly “

I asked John Brennan ‘ Why was Jones so successful?

“He was an explainer and question asker and discussed and explained complex issues in a manner which could be understood by the ordinary person of average intelligence like no other. Jones always sought the real truth in order to explore an issue. His comments were always precise and well researched. His intelligence was rarely seen as being of the academic or ‘boffin’ nature. I wanted it to be more  ‘street wise’ or the intelligent, down-to-earth type. Alan’s greatest gift was reading the Sydney psyche perfectly – and he wasn’t afraid to slice himself open every morning and share his opinions, feelings, hopes and fears while still being able to inform the audience about subjects that affected their lives “

“He was the common man with the touch of genius.

He helped shape and guide government policy by making law-makers more accountable to the people they serve. The most powerful tool to get action for his listeners on radio. He continues to drive the public’s demand for common sense and common decency in how the government treats its citizens.

Of course there have been his critics over the years – those who have a different agenda and have been downright mean, hurtful in their bitter points of view. They’ve come from the elitists, academics and a few media people who can never quite understand his appeal to the average person. They’ve humiliated, heckled him with many untruthful diatribes…all brought about by envy and spite.”

“One must say Alan Jones is GOOD to the very core. I have worked with him every day for 27 years and I can tell you he’s been the champion of the poor, the marginalised and a defender of the indigenous people.

To many he has been overly generous and all encompassing. I’ve seen him day or night going from one suburb to another at all hours to help a listener, a neighbour, friend, and others in significant need. He showers them with overwhelming generosity plus warmth, kindness, care and concern. How he has ever managed to save from his very attractive salary beats me. I would have said he’s given it all away by now to deserving battlers. That’s my honest opinion “

“Finally I was always overcome with his deep love for Australia – and to inspire others to learn and respect our nation’s history too. He has this amazing ability to galvanise Australians every day to better themselves and to engage their government – and to love Australia. This inspiring patriot came from the most humble of beginnings but for the past 30 years (with grace and humility) he has blazed trails in radio where no-one else has gone. I have heard all of the great talk hosts around the world and have no doubt Alan Jones is the BEST.

No one here or overseas has ever influenced, inspired or touched listeners as DEEPLY as Alan Jones has.“

Listening to Alan Jones’ radio show, it’s easy to hear why it rates around 16% and eclipses other breakfast radio shows ratings. Again you may not agree with what he says, but how he delivers it is compelling.

Jones’ level of understanding and opinions on almost any topic is far reaching and exhaustive, no doubt the result of endless detailed research from him and his team. I would imagine Jones is a tough taskmaster, I’m guessing tough but fair.

His understanding of the audience, broadcasting and the craft of a breakfast radio show are second to none.

His style is very different to the style of sister station, Melbourne’s 3AW and its top rating talent like Ross & John or Neil Mitchell. The differences between the Melbourne and Sydney lineups pretty much sums up the difference in styles between the two cities.

Jones, currently heard on 77 stations nationally, also works tirelessly helping many charities. These organizations included Youth Off The Streets, the Children’s Hospital, Starlight Children’s Foundation, the Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation and the Heart Research Institute. He has received an AO for his charitable work.

His background as a coach, training rugby union teams has clearly given him the ability to know how to push hard, chase success and achieve it. That background probably also contributes to his toughness and resilience. In the mid eighties Jones coached the Australian win in the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, the first win in decades.

How reliant is 2GB on Alan Jones ? In a word ..very!

Ray Hadley, who follows Jones is an extremely talented broadcaster in his own right. He rates highly and will replace Jones eventually. It’s a given, he is the heir apparent. But Hadley, whilst a very accomplished broadcaster with a big following, isn’t Jones. It’s a bit like Prince Charles replacing the Queen, it will happen but won’t be the same.

In survey 8 of 2014, 72% of 2GB’s total Monday to Sunday cumulative audience also listened to Alan’s breakfast show. Comparing that with the top two FM shows 64% of Kiis 106.5’s total cume also listened to Kyle and Jackie O while only 58% of WSFM’s cume listened to Jonesy & Amanda.

Alan Jones is on about $4million a year, perhaps even more.

He is worth every cent. He probably generates something like $20 million of 2GB’s overall revenue, which is well in excess of $50 million.

Jones is not an announcer, he’s not a politician, he’s an old fashioned showman! He’s a performer.

So far, an extraordinary broadcaster and an extraordinary life. And he looks like being around for a while yet.

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year. He’s Director of Marchmedia and Pacific Retail Management.

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