Alan Jones' new Sky News show to be 'different' as he tackles issues Australians worry about
Alan Jones has revealed why he’s not listening to the radio again before he launches his new TV show. He promises it will be different to what fans have seen or heard before.
Since retiring in May, after dominating the Sydney airwaves for most of his 35 years on air, Jones said he misses nothing about the life that once consumed his days and nights.
“I don’t mean to be unkind to the medium which has been very kind to me, but I don’t miss anything,” Jones said.
“I have a philosophy; when the curtain goes down, you get off the stage. I drew the curtain down, and it’s important for those who have replaced me, be allowed space and clean air to get on with their job, and me to get on with my next job.
“I haven’t listened to radio (since retiring), but I never listened to radio. I was preoccupied with what I was doing. I never sat down and listened to what other people were doing. I haven’t listened to any of it since I left because I’ve got other things to do. I’m still busy.”
Soon after signing off from 2GB, Jones announced he will anchor a prime time show on Sky News, airing four nights a week from Monday to Thursday, premiering on July 6.
Jones, who is also a columnist at The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, has been part of the Sky News team since 2014.
“It will be different, it will be pacy, and we won’t be running single issue programs,” he said of his eponymous Sky News show.
“I’ll be trying to speak to people who complement across many fields whether it be politics, entertainment, sport or whatever.
“The big issue, allegedly, is we’re going to spend a whole fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars dealing with foreign threats. I mean, who are fighting? That’s not the stuff people are talking about. They’re worried about the fact they’ve got no mobile phone reach when they’re only 40 minutes out of the city, they’re worried that when September comes, and JobKeeper and JobSeeker is not there, how are they going to manage?”
Jones said he sees little difference between presenting a show on television versus radio.
“You can only succeed, or paradoxically fail, if the content is crook. Content is king,” he said.
“For example, if I want to talk about the government in Vanuatu for 20 minutes, I’m not entitled to believe anyone will listen because you’ve made a wrong judgment about content. Equally, if I want to talk to Josh Frydenberg for 20 minutes, people will say fine, but is it worth 20 minutes? You’ve got to make judgments about it all the time.”
Earlier this year, Jones, 79, was forced to make a hard decision about his radio show, after doctors said the relentless workload was not good for his health.
“I’ve only got myself to blame. At the end of the day, I didn’t have two minutes to myself,” Jones says.
“The doctors have been telling me for ages – not that I’m about to fall over – but I’ve had lots of things wrong with me. Well, I had nothing wrong with me before 2006,” Jones says. “My first involvement with cancer was when a horse (he co-owned, Miss Finland) won the Golden Slipper, and I was in hospital watching it happen.
“Since then I’ve had all sorts of problems. For me, not having to get up at 2.30am or 6.30am is a bit of a holiday. “
That said, Jones is wide awake on issues of the day, and not short of opinions on wide-ranging topics including COVID-19 (“The media, along with politicians, have really hyped this thing up to the point where people are terrified”), social media (“We’ve got platforms that are just out of control, and this is immensely damaging to people ... their emotions, psychological wellbeing, and sometimes, their reputation”) and the demise of larrikinism (“The larrikin is the quintessential Australian spirit, taking the mickey out of one another. And we’ve stopped people from doing this.”)
His success, as a powerful and influential media figure, has come at a price. But Jones, the son of a farmer and schoolteacher, won’t complain.
“You do become a prisoner of the load that you take on because you can’t have success without a lot of hard work, a lot of homework and a lot of input,” he says.
“But I never think like that. I’m privileged to be given the opportunities I’ve had ... to be able to help people, and provide a voice to people who are by and large voiceless. That particularly applies to the bush.
“It’s important in life to not forget where you’ve come from. I came from a simple dairy family. They had no money and I never forget that. I can identify with people who are struggling. My parents died without ever having a holiday,” Jones says.
“As you go further, you sacrifice certain freedoms because they boo you here, and cheer you there. But that comes with the territory, and I don’t think we’re entitled to complain.”
He doesn’t regret, either, not finding a partner or having kids.
“The older you get, the less time you’ve got, and the less ability you’ve got to commit,” he says. “You can’t live your life in regret. You should be grateful for the achievements you’ve been allowed to enjoy. That’s the way I approach my life. I don’t go out there and whinge about what I might have missed out on, and what might have been denied to me.”
Asked about the future, and the road in front of him, Jones says he’s not thinking beyond his first show for Sky News.
“To me, the road ahead is Monday night’s show,” Jones says. “I say to people, ‘Forget this early retirement nonsense ... because I think you need intellectual rigour in your life. I’d be bored if I didn’t have an intellectual challenge, and that is why I do what I do.”
Alan Jones premieres on July 6 at 8pm on Sky News on Foxtel and regional free-to-air news channel Sky News on WIN.