James Packer’s heartwarming phone call to Alan Jones: Billionaire and star broadcaster open up about their powerful relationship after shock retirement
- James Packer, 52, thanked and congratulated long-time friend Alan Jones, 79
- The billionaire businessman phoned 2GB from Los Angeles on Friday morning
- Jones announced on Tuesday he would retire from radio due to his health
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Billionaire James Packer has made a surprise on-air phone call to broadcaster Alan Jones to congratulate him on his upcoming retirement.
Jones told his 2GB listeners on Tuesday he would walk away from radio at the end of the month after doctors advised his intense workload was impacting his health.
During Friday morning’s show, the 79-year-old received an out-of-the blue phone call from his business mogul friend.
Packer heaped praise on the broadcaster in a touching and rare public conversation which then turned to the coronavirus and his new Sydney casino.
‘I don’t want to say how long we have been mates, but all the way from the United States of America is Mr James Packer,’ Jones told his listeners before the 8.30am news bulletin.
Pictured: James Packer, left, is hugged by Alan Jones during the memorial service for Kerry Packer at the Sydney Opera House in 2006
Jones questioned why Packer, who is currently in Los Angeles, spontaneously rang into the show.
‘What are you doing? you should be asleep,’ Jones said, despite it being mid-afternoon in LA.
The casino mogul responded: ‘Just thinking about you and all the good times we’ve had together and all the kind things you have done for me and wondering if they are going to hang up the jacket 226 in the Nine Entertainment corridor.’
Jones said it was ‘lovely’ to hear the 52-year-old’s voice, adding the pair communicate all the time via text messages and emails.
The pair spoke briefly about coronavirus lockdown and a ‘very quiet’ Los Angeles before Jones asked about the Crown Casino project in Barangaroo.
The $2.2billion Sydney venue is on track to be completed by the end of the year. Packer is the largest shareholder of Crown Resorts, which owns luxurious casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
James Packer has thanked and congratulated long-time friend Alan Jones (pictured) in a surprise on-air phone call in the wake of the radio broadcaster’s shock retirement announcement
RUGBY TO RADIO: A TIMELINE OF ALAN JONES’ CAREER
1961: After leaving school Jones turns to teaching, taking up a role at a state school in Brisbane
1970: He becomes head of English at Sydney’s prestigious The King’s School
1975: After a successful stint as both a teacher and rugby coach at The King’s School, Jones leaves in a bid to win preselection for the Country Party
1978: Jones returns to Sydney and fails to win election to NSW parliament, before becoming a speech writer for state opposition leader John Mason
1979: A year later he began writing for Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser
1982: Jones began as an assistant with NSW’s rugby union side, before taking up the role as Manly head coach and winning the Shute Shield
1984: Jones was offered the role as coach of the Australian rugby union team. He coached the team for four years
1985: His radio career begins at 2UE and lasts for 17 years, during which time he and mornings host John Laws form a formidable partnership
2002: Jones switches to rival station 2GB, going on to win 226 consecutive radio surveys
2012: During a speech at a Liberal Party event, Jones claims then Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father had ‘died of shame’ at his daughter’s leadership. When he called to apologise, Ms Gillard refused to take his call
2018: Jones was ordered to pay $3.7 million to the Wagner family after he claimed they were responsible for the deaths of 12 people during the 2010-11 Queensland floods, after the collapse of a wall in a quarry they owned
2020: He announces his retirement at the end of May
‘It’s exciting, seven months away … it’s been eight years since we started,’ Packer said of the Sydney development.
Jones joked Packer should have built the casino in Dubai as it could have taken ‘eight months’.
The pair are ‘always together in spirit’, Jones said, before Packer concluded the phone call by heaping praise on the influential broadcaster.
‘You’re an amazing friend, and thank you and congratulations,’ Packer told Jones.
Jones will be replaced by Ben Fordham – the station’s drive host – when he goes off air at the end of the month.
Billionaire businessman James Packer is pictured with former partner Mariah Carey in May 2016. The pair were engaged before they broke up
Jones told listeners on Tuesday he would continue as a commentator by writing his weekly newspaper column in The Australian and hosing his Sky News show alongside Peta Credlin.
‘I have listened to the experts and I am taking this opportunity to indicate to my radio family that I will be retiring from radio at the end of this month,’ Jones said.
‘We are living in the world of coronavirus. The most repeated statement we hear is ‘we must listen to the experts’, well, the experts are telling me in no uncertain terms, and not for the first time I might add, ‘continuing with the present workload is seriously detrimental to your health’.
‘I guess after 35 years the full stop has to go in somewhere.
‘I am not retiring, I am just retiring from radio.’
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AUSTRALIAN MOGUL JAMES PACKER
Onetime movie investor James Packer walks through New York City in September 2015
1967: James Douglas Packer is born to Kerry and Ros Packer in Sydney
About 1985: Finishes school and works as a jackaroo in Northern Territory
1999: Marries first wife Jodhi Meares; the couple separates in 2002
2001: Telecommunications company One.Tel goes broke, costing Packer $300m
2005: Kerry Packer dies and James takes over family business
2006: Starts selling Channel 9 as he moves into casinos
2007: Marries model Erica Baxter; the couple separates in 2013
2012: Forms RatPac production company with producer Brett Ratner
2014: Has public street fight with then best friend David Gyngell
2016: Becomes engaged to singer Mariah Carey; couple separates later that year
2017: Sells out of RatPac
2018: Steps down from Crown Resorts board