Sydney's top radio broadcaster Alan Jones is retiring at the end of May, with figures across the political divide paying tribute to his long and controversial career.
Jones, 79, made the announcement live on air during his 2GB breakfast radio program on Tuesday, saying he was following the advice of his doctors.
"I guess after 35 years the full stop has to go in somewhere," Jones said.
Jones' replacement on his 5.30am to 9am breakfast slot will be Ben Fordham, who currently covers the 3pm to 6pm drive program.
This may come as a surprise to Sydney radio insiders who've long touted 2GB mornings broadcaster, Ray Hadley, as Jones' most likely replacement.
Hadley said on 2GB that Fordham had his "full support" and added that he expects his career will finish at the end of his contract in about five years' time.
Jones' 35-year radio career began at radio station 2UE in 1985 ahead of his move to 2GB in 2001 and delivered him a record 226 rating survey wins. Since then he's been waking up about 2.30am each weekday to deliver his program.
His presence at 2GB was pivotal in driving the station to number one in the Sydney market.
Jones also writes for News Corp newspapers and has an evening show on Sky News TV, and these commitments are expected to continue for now.
The veteran broadcaster also said he "had nothing to do" with the appointment of his successor, who declared he was excited to take Jones' position.
"My first taste of radio was as a 15-year-old work experience kid on the Alan Jones breakfast show," Fordham said in a statement on Tuesday.
"I can't quite believe that all these years on, I'm taking over the position he's made his own."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was one of many people who called in to 2GB after Jones made the announcement on Tuesday to wish him well.
"We've had one or two disagreements but you've always done the right thing by your country and we're very proud of that," Mr Morrison said.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Jones was a complex character with a remarkable career.
"I always felt when I was talking to Alan Jones - and some people said I shouldn't talk to him - I was talking to his listeners as well," Mr Albanese told Sky News.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott described Jones' retirement as the end of an era.
"In many respects, you were the voice of middle Australia. You were the person who would stand up for the battler, the person who would articulate what millions of people were thinking but couldn't quite bring themselves to say," Mr Abbott said.
Fellow former prime minister John Howard said in a statement he had always admired Jones' candour and "prodigious capacity" to be on top of all issues.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in remarks to reporters on Tuesday congratulated the veteran broadcaster on his successful career and later called in to 2GB to exchange pleasantries with Jones.
"You're to blame for this because you keep running around saying we must listen to the experts, so I listened to the experts," Jones joked with the premier, referencing Ms Berejiklian's advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Berejiklian replied: "First time in your life, Alan, listening to the experts!"
Australian Associated Press