Jim Wilson ready to ‘rattle cages’ in new 2GB role
Jim Wilson says he is no fence sitter as he prepares to kick off his new gig in radio.
The 52-year-old will on Monday start the next chapter of his broadcast career as host of the coveted 2GB Drive show, replacing Ben Fordham who moved to the Breakfast shift following Alan Jones' departure.
The memories of his late son, Sam, and sister Bec will be front of mind as Wilson promises to tackle the hard issues with listeners and Australia's political and business leaders.
"Having lost my son Sam at six to brain cancer and my sister Bec to breast cancer at 54, I want to absolutely raise the awareness that the funding from the government for research across the board is a disgrace," Wilson told The Saturday Telegraph.
"One of the key pillars of my broadcasting in this show will be rattling cages and helping our great scientific brains and researchers get a better slice of the funding pie.
"The amount of young scientists who have been lost to the industry or lost offshore, it is a national disgrace that they are not being better looked after."
Wilson's comments come as The Saturday Telegraph can reveal former Olympic athlete Matt Shirvington will take on his sports reporting job at Channel 7.
While sport has been the foundation of Wilson's 30 plus year career in journalism, politics and social issues will be very much a focus of his new job.
"I like to think that over 30 years I have been able to pick up phones to everyone from Prime Minister to Premiers," he said. "I love my sport but first and foremost I am a journo and I love the news cycle. I have never been afraid to ask a hard question but I would like to think that I can be firm but fair."
Wilson said he will be speaking to both sides of politics with his ultimate aim being impartiality.
"I would like to think that after a couple of years of doing this, the listeners will wonder which way I vote," he said. "If I can achieve that, I will be happy. That doesn't mean I will be sitting on the fence with splinters in my backside, it is being fair to all sides."
Wilson sat down for an exclusive chat with the Telegraph in what was to be his big new office at 2GB's Pyrmont headquarters. Come Monday though, he has no intention of using the office and will instead sit with his team in an open-plan office space.
He scored the job after a national search by Nine managing director of radio Tom Malone and head of content Greg Burns, who put together the team of Wilson with executive producer Paul Christenson, producers Tara Moroney and Matt Daniels and panel operator Jordan Wakeford.
Wilson takes over the reins from Mark Levy, who has been filling in for several weeks.
"I've had an office before but it lasted about five minutes," he said. "I like being part of a team where everyone has an opinion and contribution. We will all have input into this program, it is not going to be Jim's way or the highway. I am a long time listener, first time host in radio."
Wilson's son, Sam, died of brain cancer a decade ago. He is father to son Joey, 18, and stepson, Darcy, from his 10 year marriage to fellow TV and radio broadcaster Chris Bath.
"I shed tears especially on the anniversary of Sam's passing in April and his birthday on November 17 but I know I have to be there for Joey and Darcy and I have a great wife with Bathy, who has been a pillar of strength for me in some really personal heartache," he explained.
Wilson and Bath own a property in the lower Hunter Valley he describes as "our out" and "circuit breaker". They've named the property 'Bird Nerds Are Us'.
"Chris has got me hooked on bird nerding," he laughed. "We go around this farm with our binoculars, you've got this six foot six boofhead who loves his rugby league and sport looking at finches and robins and at the top of the food chain, a wedge tailed eagle. It is as good as your team winning a premiership when you see them (wedge tailed eagle), they are amazing creatures. That farm has been great for us to be able to go and escape."
Originally published as Jim Wilson ready to 'rattle cages' in new 2GB role