YAY!!Veteran radio broadcaster John Laws has announced he will retire in November.
Laws, who pioneered popular music and talk radio formats in Australia, announced he was retiring at the start of his program on the Southern Cross Broadcasting network on Monday morning.
The 71-year-old, nicknamed the "Golden Tonsils", said word of his retirement had already leaked out and he had no prepared remarks to make.
"We have certainly been able to keep the dream alive," he said, using his catch-phrase.
"Sadly we haven't been able to keep the secret alive.
"I wanted to tell you probably in about 42 minutes from now that I was going to stop being a radio broadcaster come November.
"But it seems to be everybody knew before I did. I hadn't really made a conscious decision about that, I have nothing written in front of me.
"I hadn't made a conscious decision about what I was going to say and when I was going to say it.
"But given there are television crews all over the place and newspapers on the telephone and prime ministers ringing and all sorts of extraordinary things happening I assumed that the secret was out."
Veteran broadcaster John Laws says he would like to continue broadcasting until after this year's federal election.
He says he knew it was time to go when Prime Minister John Howard called him mate during an interview.
An hour after Laws announced his resignation, Mr Howard rang in to congratulate him.
"I know you've given a lot of thought to this and the momentous decision - you'll be very greatly missed," Mr Howard said.
Laws thanked the prime minister for his wishes, then said: "I knew it was time to quit last week when I talked to you and you called me mate."
Between them, the two men worked out that Laws had interviewed nine prime ministers in his years on air.
Laws' first prime ministerial interviewee was Sir Robert Menzies, followed by Harold Holt, John Gorton, Billy McMahon, Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
"I have to say that out of all of them, you have been one of the most enjoyable and certainly one of the trickiest," Laws told Howard.
"You've got a wonderful brain. When I ask you questions that you don't want to answer you have the cleverest side-step."
Mr Howard responded with a cricket analogy: "You bowl a pretty deceptive inswinger too."
Mr Howard thanked Laws for his contribution to informed public debate.
"We've had many interviews, some of them lively, some of them not so lively, some of them harmonious, some of them not so harmonious," he said.
"But that is exactly how it ought to be."
Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd also rang in to Laws' program to wish him well.
Mr Rudd said Australian radio will not be the same without John Laws.
"You can't retire. Institutions don't retire, they go on forever," Mr Rudd said.
"Fifty-five years. That's an extraordinary innings.
"You're part and parcel of people's lives out there and I'm not quite sure whether broadcast-land is going to be the same without you."
Mr Rudd said Laws had always been fair to both sides of politics.
He said he hoped the broadcaster would still be on air during the upcoming federal election, expected to be held in October or November but which could be as late as January next year.
"I would hope that you would still be contributing your voice on the airwaves so that everyone gets a fair go and gets to put their point of view," Mr Rudd said.
"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."
Mr Rudd said it was difficult news for Laws' listeners.
"What are we going to do without the Golden Tonsils?" he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Mark Vaile thanked broadcaster John Laws for being a "great mate to the bush".
"You've been a great mate to the bush through that entire career," he said.
Laws had represented the views and aspirations of people in rural areas suffering extreme adversity, Mr Vaile said.
"And that empathy you've always been able to display to the rest of Australia to get Australia onside in supporting people in regional Australia's been fantastic and we thank you and salute you for it," he said.