WHAT'S on your mind, Australia?
And with that introduction, radio broadcaster John Laws begins his weekday talkback program from 2SM in Sydney.
Laws broadcasts for three hours from 9am-midday and his program is networked to more than 60 stations around the country.
In Newcastle, the program goes to air through 2HD.
The first 2022 survey results - the GfK radio ratings - were released last Friday.
The ratings provide information to those who pay for subscription about who listens, as well as when and where they listen.
Laws ran third in his timeslot in the survey behind Hit 106.9 and number one Triple M - which won every daytime shift.
2HD came out on top in the 65-till-dead demographic.
How popular Laws remains in the hyper-competitive Sydney market remains anyone's guess.
2SM does not participate in that survey.
When callers suggest to Laws that his audience in Sydney is small and his popularity has fallen off a cliff since his glory days in the 1970s and 80s, Laws retorts with a response that 2SM doesn't need to be involved in radio ratings.
Nothing to see here.
I've been listening to Laws on occasion for decades. I like commercial talkback radio in small doses.
Laws has had his fair share of involvement in regrettable shenanigans behind the microphone, but he has rarely been accused of being boring.
He could and can be rude, aggressive, and is regularly poorly informed about current events, but he is seldom boring.
But having listened more often since the federal election was called, it's clear Laws doesn't have anywhere near the resources at his disposal he once commanded.
Such resources stopped him from being boring. In the glory days of Sydney radio, Laws had good copy containing sharp opinion and ideas he could present as if speaking off-the-cuff.
Sure, nowadays Laws still gets assistance from staff to rustle up information on the web. He then sprouts that information as if he had known it all along.
But many radio presenters rely on smart producers doing the same thing.
The scripts Laws has been reading during this election campaign have regularly swayed towards anti-Labor sentiment.
Fine, Laws can be as anti-Labor as he wishes.
But during his shift following the first television debate between the two major party leaders, Laws sounded like he had truly lost the plot.
On that shift on April 22, the day's first caller - a regular, vehemently anti-communist crusader named Steve - asked Laws if he watched the debate.
Before answering the question, Laws asked Steve if he had watched the debate.
Steve offered the view that the debate was a draw, even though he himself was biased in favour of the Prime Minister.
Laws responded he "didn't watch the debate deliberately because I would rather have the opinion of people who don't have any bias to begin with".
"Obviously, when you're in a business like this, you know too much, so I'm interested in your opinion more than I'm interested in mine," he said.
When you're in a business like this, you know too much? Puh-lease.
Laws said he didn't watch the debate deliberately.
Yet later in the same program, he said "after watching last night, I think it's safe to say it's going to be a very tough contest... if I had to pick a winner, I'd say it was Scott Morrison".
Despite having said he didn't watch the debate, Laws picked Morrison as having won the debate.
Who's writing these scripts for Laws? And why the obvious anti-Labor push in the scripts?
Such confusion makes it obvious that Laws is provided with scripts that his golden tonsils blurt into the mic like some carnival barker spruiking any product willing to pay for endorsement.
And that he does so, even when those contents contradict him, make him sound like a confused ditherer.
Laws is now tarnishing his own broadcasting legend.
He seems to enjoy telling the audience that he tried retirement and found it unbearably boring.
His ongoing jabs at Madonna about her age (even though she will turn 64 a week after he turns 87), his constant humming and singing over music with an incorrect lyric, and his increasingly common phlegmy coughing fits without bothering to shut down the mic, should turn off even the most rusted-on listeners.
But not in Newcastle - a staunch ALP bastion at all three levels of government - where his audience numbers remain the strongest of any shift on 2HD.
Laws likes to tell critics to turn off if they don't like the program.
He's right. I'm tapping out.
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