For 18 years Alan Jones has ruled the talkback airwaves, but with five months until his contract at 2GB is due to expire, the man with so much to say every morning has been uncharacteristically coy when it comes to what his own future holds.
Just what might Alan Jones do next?Credit:Marina Neil
Amid much media speculation and conjecture about Jones, the multimillionaire broadcaster was keeping his cards close when PS approached this week.
"Andrew, as you would know through all of this I have had nothing to say and I would like to retain that position. As you know, the speculation will continue. But it’s best that no one has any idea what I’m thinking or what I’m planning," he informed PS, somewhat tellingly.
Jones' station 2GB is owned by Macquarie Media, which is majority-owned by Nine, publisher of the Herald.
Macquarie chief executive officer Adam Lang told PS negotiations with Jones had only commenced this week, and despite rumours to the contrary, it was "not unusual" to have not signed a new contract with his star broadcaster five months out from his existing contract coming to an end.
"Alan has returned to work and as planned we look forward to commencing negotiations," Lang said, adding that despite all the media reports on the matter, PS was the first reporter to actually ask him about Jones' future at the radio station.
In recent years Jones has been signed on two-year contracts, shorter than his previous deals which had been negotiated by late media titans Harry M Miller and Sam Chisholm.
Jones remains at the top of his game, and is one of the most profitable broadcasters in the country having topped more than 100 radio surveys consecutively.
But there are other, less flattering issues to be confronted in the negotiations, not least the multimillion-dollar defamation loss to Queensland's wealthy Wagner family which successfully sued Jones and 2GB.
Last September Jones and his team were ordered to pay a record $3.7 million in compensation for defaming the Wagners by claiming they were responsible for 12 deaths in the 2011 Lockyer Valley floods.
Happier times: John Singleton, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley in 2002.Credit:Rick Stevens
In November the broadcaster was ordered to pay the Wagner's legal costs, which along with Jones' were estimated to be well into the millions.
Last year Jones also apologised to Sydney Opera House boss Louise Herron after he was accused of misogyny and bullying following his aggressive on-air questioning over her decision to block the Everest horse race from being advertised on the building's sails, a decision later overturned by Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
In August Jones offered another apology after using a racist term on air while discussing the Liberal party leadership. Jones told his listeners: ""The n—– in the woodpile here, if one can use that expression – and I'm not going to yield to people who tell us that certain words in the language are forbidden."
Constant health issues continue to plague Jones, who turns 78 in April. Illness has kept him off air for extended periods.
His colleague Ray Hadley's mornings show was extended to cover Jones' timeslot.
"The ratings pretty much held up, management saw that and it certainly looks like Ray is being positioned to replace Alan," a radio insider told PS on the grounds of anonymity.
After majority shareholder Nine, Macquarie Media's other largest shareholder is John Singleton, who for years has forged a close relationship with both Jones and Hadley, his two star broadcasters. Observers say that while Singleton remains close with both men, the relationship between Singleton's right-hand man, Macquarie's non executive chairman Russell Tate, and Jones, has cooled in recent times, though Tate has previously rubbished unsourced reports that 2GB management wanted Jones gone.
While Jones is earning an annual base salary of more than $4 million, his company Hadiac Pty Limited holds some 2,166,668 shares in Macquarie Media, about 1.2 per cent of the company which are worth well over $4 million.
Singleton's company John Singleton Promotions Pty Limited owns 32.37 per cent of Macquarie Media which is worth more than $104 million.
Nine has expressed a desire to own all of Macquarie Media, and its directors, namely chairman Peter Costello, have publicly endorsed Jones as one of the country's best broadcasters.
"Singo is playing good cop, Russell is bad cop … they know Nine wants to buy the rest of Macquarie, Alan still has a minority shareholding which could be the poison pill in all of this, it's about much more than simply renewing Alan's radio gig," the insider said.
MURDOCH TEENS SET FOR MASSIVE WINDFALL
Grace and Chloe Murdoch look like a couple of ordinary teens, though their respective Instagram feeds reveal a few clues indicating their lives are hardly anything like most other youngsters.
Grace and Chloe Murdoch.Credit:Instagram
There's the holidays in the Carribean, lounging on superyachts, private jets and luxury Manhattan penthouses, not to mention celebrity photo bombs from godparents including Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
But by June, the youngest of Rupert Murdochs children, now aged 17 and 15, are set to become two of the wealthiest teenagers in the world, their combined fortunes worth more than $6 billion.
Well, on paper at least.
June is the timeframe entertainment giant Disney says it will have completed its acquisition of Murdoch’s Fox entertainment business, a huge deal worth nearly $100 billion.
One of the major beneficiaries of the deal will be the Murdoch Family Trust, originally set up as an inheritance mechanism for Murdoch's four adult children Prudence, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James following his divorce from his second wife Anna Murdoch.
As young girls, Grace and Chloe Murdoch.Credit:Instagram
After Murdoch married Wendi Deng in 1999 he changed the trust to include his youngest daughters Grace and Chloe, sparking years of well-documented family disputes.
Reportedly the adult children had no objection to Grace and Chloe receiving an equal economic share in the trusts (at the time diluting the adult children's stakes by a total of $US3.9 billion), but they insisted Grace and Chloe could not be granted voting rights, lest they fall in control of their mother as their guardian.
As part of the peace agreement finally carved out in 2006, each child received News Corp stock worth $US100 million and cash payments of at least $US50 million each raised from share sales – a total payout of $US900 million.
Today the teenagers' stakes in the family trust are managed by trustees appointed by Murdoch and their mother. Ivanka Trump was a trustee for the girls but stepped down shortly after her father, Donald, was elected US president in 2016.
And it could be some time before the girls can get their hands on their money too, with the trust controlled by a majority vote of the adult siblings, meaning three of them must agree, while the Murdoch tradition is that no inheritance is payable until the age of 30.
Last week indications emerged that changes could soon be afoot for the trust, with James Murdoch, head of 21st Century Fox, setting up his own family office in New York with a staff of about 10.
PORN KING UNDER FIRE
Sydney's troubled porn king Damien Costas, the owner of Penthouse magazine and promoter of controversial tours by the likes of Milo Yiannopolos and Nigel Farage, admits he has been through a "challenging period" but denies the "wagons are circling".
Damien Costas, publisher of Australian Penthouse, is in the middle of a court dispute with Sydney publicist Max Markson. Credit: Nic Walker, Ellis Pander
Last year he fended off corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission after it questioned him on his eligibility to be a company director given he had been associated with multiple failed companies that wound up owing considerable sums.
Now one of his most recent business associates, flamboyant promoter Max Markson, says he will not quit until Costas is out of business for good.
Costas is facing two separate legal challenges to have his company wound up, a magazine that's having trouble making it to the newsstands, a former business partner in prison after being convicted of one of the biggest drug hauls ever and an ever growing list of creditors demanding money.
Indeed one of his claimed creditors was recently accused of assaulting Costas at a Sydney Cafe, though Dean Tate denies assaulting Costas, whom he claims owes his company Ticket Socket $60,000 from the Yiannopolos tour. The matter is due in court on February 4.
"It has been a very difficult period, but Max Markson has cost me $300,000, and if wasn't for that we would not be in the situation we are in," Costas claimed, promising a brighter future, especially when he finally opens the doors on his long-awaited bar in Surry Hills, he intends to name Guccione's, in honour of the Penthouse founder, Bob Guccione.
ALBO'S SON MAKES A SPLASH
The federal member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese was underwhelmed by PS' line of questions about his son Nathan's recent 18th birthday party.
PS was informed the party even had its own Project X moment, inspired by the film about an out of hand teenager's house party which features a scene of – ahem – highly spirited lads jumped into the pool from a rooftop. Except in the Albanese version, the boys appeared a little worse for wear when they got out of the pool, with bruises and a few drops of blood.
BANANADRAMA OVER MISSING SINGER
PS is not the only child of the '80s looking forward to the Australian tour by British pop group Bananarama, but somehow the trio we knew from 30-odd years ago has morphed into a duo, and not everyone is happy about it.
Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama back in the ’80s.
Bananarama was formed in London in 1981 by friends Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward, but strangely Fahey, who went on to become one half of Shakespeare's Sister but rejoined her old sisters and was playing with them just last year, is missing from the line up coming to Sydney. One of Fahey's pals informed PS: "She's been air-brushed out completely, but I don't think she really cares, she's got her own new music to focus on."
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