Bob Francis retires


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Big Bob Francis is undoubtedly one of a kind.

Tonight the king of Adelaide radio will say that for the last time on 5AA when the curtain comes down on an amazing 57 years of showbiz.

“I've enjoyed everything I've done… if I had my life all over again I'd do exactly what I’d done, there’s nothing that I’m concerned about or sorry about... even the people I've abused over time… I am even on you tube with the lady I abused you know the eighty year old Alice... if you are watching Alice… (blows raspberry).

You don't want to say sorry to her?

“No way!”

Oh yes... and he's also one of the last of that unique species of shock jocks… old Alice was on the receiving end of one of his most celebrated insults.

I've always said to myself where in the world can you get a job where the customer is always wrong? (laughs) I've had it and it’s beautiful”.

“There aren't too many people in the world who have a program like mine, who has an opinion, who swears as much as I do, and that’s a lot of people who say to me, gee you’re straight down the line, you say exactly what I think, I wish I was able to say what you say”.

It may not seem apparent now to younger generations but scratch under the surface and you'll find some substance to this Egyptian born, English bred and Prince Alfred College educated loud mouth nicknamed fatty who got away with blue murder on the airwaves.

See I am an entertainer, I am not a journalist, I am there and I think I know how people react, what they react about, how they feel about the world and if I say something they go bloody hell that's right”.

Lots of highs for the first South Australian inducted to the radio hall of fame…

Almost every show that came to town, Tada! There’s me, fatty on the stage introducing them”.

Bringing the Beatles out in 1964… Well at least you’ll always be remembered for that even after you are forgotten on radio…

“After I die, they’ll say I brought the Beatles to Adelaide”.

“April 1967 I was the first person in Australia to go to air with talk back… and that was a magical time... At the time of Vietnam, and I was all for the involvement in Vietnam by Australians and people sent me a white feather in the mail like you would talk about it but you wouldn’t go there… Bang! Got the ok by the Australian, American and Vietnamese Government as a war correspondent for two weeks”.

The lows you can count on one hand... a failed marriage or three, a scooter accident that's left him with one leg shorter than the other and a criminal conviction with a suspended jail term for a threatening rant against a magistrate.

All this sort of bellicose yelling, is it an act?

“Please explain… Bellicose? (laughs) No it’s not an act, you know me well enough to say if you say something I say oh piss off! It’s not an act, it’s me, how I react to everybody”.

Bob was unassailable for ten years... but then his ratings crown slipped.

“I was number 1 for 10 years and the ratings came down to number 2… I hated that… not easy to take and I thought maybe it’s time to get out of here before I go out as the bottom radio station”.

Do you think he’ll be happy in retirement?

“I think he will, he’s happier already... only two things I am worried about are boredom and money just going out, not coming in,” says Anna.

The 75 year old has been with his fifth wife Anna for 8 years... it's her seventh marriage but they're deliriously in love, count on this one lasting.

What you see is what you get?

“He is no different at home, he yells just the same, he will never be boring, keeps me on my toes,” says Anna.

What are you going to do with yourself?

“I am a lazy bastard... I just sit back and watch television”.

Well done Bob it’s been a fantastic career…

“Thanks for all the publicity you’ve given me over the years… good or bad”.

Well there have been some bad.

For his swansong... radio royalty from around the country are paying their regal respects... but thick skinned Bob confesses he's dreading those final moments as the clock approaches midnight.

You going to get teary?

“I can’t make speeches at funerals or weddings... I am an emotional guy, if I have to start talking about people individually and what they’re all about and even talking about myself, to say goodbye its gonna be pretty hard”.