Alan Jones is no stranger to inflaming controversy, nor saying it as he sees it. Appropriate or inappropriate, you be the judge. Reports on his recent comments on Julia Gillard to the Sydney University Liberal Club being a case in point.
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And as a radio personality Jones certainly knows how to push peoples buttons. Not the buttons on the studio desk that fire off tedious radio commercials, or sad country songs about departed wives and dead dogs. Someone does that for him.
The buttons Jones pushes are psychological ones. They're connected to the hearts and minds of his listeners who reside on what Jones calls Struggle Street.
Jones might not live anywhere near Struggle Street, but he sure knows what its residents are thinking, and he can flick the switch that fires those battlers into a state of collective rage. They love it.
This is why Alan Jones is one of Australia's most successful and highest paid radio personalities, his market share has, at times, nudged an astonishing 20% in Sydney surveys and his annual salary is in the millions.
Jones might be king of the Sydney airwaves but at heart he's a Queensland lad. He was born on the 13th April, 1941 and was raised on a dairy farm at Oakey in the Darling Downs. He attended Toowoomba Grammar School as a boarder then trained as a teacher at the Kelvin Grove Teachers College.
After a stint at a state primary school he took a position at Brisbane Grammar School for boys. Studying part-time, he was awarded a Bachelors of Arts degree in 1969. In 1970 he was appointed Senior English Master at The Kings School in Parramatta where he coached the successful XV rugby team to GPS victory in 1974. It was the beginning of a long involvement in Rugby Union.
After being asked to leave the Kings School in 1975, he studied at Oxford University, before returning to Australia and contesting a New South Wales state seat for the Liberal party in the late 70s, yes, that pro-Liberal bias you hear on the airwaves is not imagined. Jones didn't rate as well in the polls as he does in radio surveys, and after failing to secure the seat he employed his Oxford-honed erudition and articulation to become Malcolm Fraser's speech-writer.
Putting words into someone else's mouth was all well and good, but Jones was about to discover that speaking his own words was much more lucrative. In 1981 he moved on to the Employers Federation of NSW where he served as Executive Director. In 1982 he was also appointed manager of the NSW Rugby Union team and in 1983 was appointed as first grade coach for Manly, who subsequently went on to win the Premiership.
In 1985, Jones joined Sydney radio station 2UE and immediately attracted a following. On the other side of the Tasman, his fan club was not quite as large, as an acerbic Jones coached the 1986 Wallabies to Bledisloe Cup glory on New Zealand soil, a rare feat indeed.
Jones was on a winner with his radio career as well, his conservative views finding an ever increasing audience.
No stranger to controversy, Jones's path has clearly veered between a number of public highs and lows. From being deposed as the coach of the Wallabies, to being awarded the Order of Australia. From involvement in several high profile legal cases, to extensive and dedicated philanthropic work.
Jones is clearly a complex character, one cabable of creating both enduring loyalty and deep enmity.
Convinced that the huge Jones audience would follow the man, businessman John Singleton made Jones an offer he couldn't refuse, defect from 2UE and join Singleton's station, 2GB, for about four million a year plus a financial stake.
Jones can talk. Money talks louder. In 2002, Jones jumped, going to 2GB and taking his audience with him. 2GB no longer struggles, it is the most listened to commercial station on Sydney's AM band. Singleton, a renowned punter, gambled and won when he approached Alan Jones.
Alan Jones is no John Laws. Where Laws has the golden tonsils and smooth as Valvoline oil delivery, Jones has a staccato, rather clipped on-air style. His detractors call him The Parrot. But unlike his bitter rival, Jones rates. Who needs a radio voice? Who cares about Cash For Comment and recent bouts of ill health? Just as long as he keeps pushing the right buttons, Alan Jones will always be number one with the battlers on Struggle Street.
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