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Radio presenter announces his retirement.

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Monday 25 June 2007

Radio presenter announces his retirement


MARK COLVIN: After more than 50 years in the business the man nicknamed the Golden Tonsils has announced that he'll be retiring. 


John Laws made the announcement this morning during his program on Southern Cross radio. 


Laws will be remembered as one of the country's most successful broadcasters, but over the years he's been embroiled in number of controversies, most notably the Cash-for-Comment affair. 


Mark Tobin compiled this report. 


MARK TOBIN: John Laws' career in broadcasting began in 1953 at the Bendigo radio station 3BO and this morning he announced that it would be ending in November. 


JOHN LAWS: I am going to stop being a radio broadcaster. I will never stop totally thinking of it because apart from my family it's been my life for 55 years. I've known nothing else. It's been the second great love of my life, apart from my family. I mean I've loved every moment I've spent in radio. I loved every broadcast I've ever done. 


MARK TOBIN: The Prime Minister John Howard was one of a number of political leaders who called the program to pay tribute to Laws. 


JOHN HOWARD: I know you've given a lot of thought to this and it's a momentous decision, you'll be very greatly missed. Nobody has become such an institution in Australian radio like you. 


MARK TOBIN: The Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd also called in to say radio would not be the same. 


KEVIN RUDD: You've been the subject of controversy over the years but who in public life hasn't been? But you're out there and you're taking views. You take our side of politics; you take the Government's side of politics. You give us a whack from time to time, you give the Government a whack and I just think we're going to be the poorer for your going. 


MARK TOBIN: Talkback callers also said they'd miss hearing Laws in the morning. 


UNKNOWN CALLER 1: Mate a bit of a sad day today with you announcing your retirement. I've been listening to you since I was 12 years old and I'm 46. 




UNKNOWN CALLER 2: I've enjoyed listening to you and I'm not one of those ones that have not enjoyed what you've talked about over many, many times. 


MARK TOBIN: At the height of his career Laws dominated the airwaves and he also had many lucrative contractors with sponsors.  


In 1999 the ABC's Media Watch program aired allegations that Laws had been paid to give favourable commentary on air, without disclosing to listeners that he had commercial arrangements with the companies involved. The scandal became known as the Cash-for-Comments affair.  


In 2004 he was again found to have breached laws dealing with cash for comment. 


In the same year he was also found guilty of vilifying homosexuals during a discussion about a gay couple who were appearing on a reality tv show. 


In recent years Laws hasn't been rating as well as he once did.  


The former host of Media Watch David Marr says he doesn't think the broadcaster ever recovered from the Cash-for-Comment scandal. 


DAVID MARR: His great stock in trade was always his sincerity. That fabulous voice that can sound sincere about everything from Valvoline to country and western music or the virtues of Liberal government. You know you can sell anything with that voice. It's a powerful instrument. 


But when it was discovered that his values were also for sale, not just goods but that his own values, it made that fantastic instrument, just, it made it kind of doubtful and a bit shabby. 


MARK COLVIN: The former host of Media Watch , David Marr, ending that report from Mark Tobin.