Born in: Paddington, Sydney
Friends: Ray Warren
Foes: Rob Oakeshott | Mark Riley
Home Town: Sydney
Ray Hadley's rabble-rousing radio show is networked to about 700,000 people across Australia. That's not so say that everybody loves Raymond, but he couldn't care less. The taxi driver turned self-made sultan of the airwaves says, "Mad as I sometimes appear, I firmly believe in what I'm saying."
Ray tops the Sydney radio ratings with a dizzying combination of interviews, talkback, hyped-up opinion, satirical songs, live-read advertisements and emails from his listeners, all bleeding into one. But what's most striking about his daily performance (to The Power Index at least) is his rude contempt for politicians, judges, bureaucrats, climate alarmists and all who disagree with him, who he regularly describes as "idiots", "imbeciles", "half-wits", "pelicans", "dopes" and "dole bludgers".
As with his 2GB teammate Alan Jones, it's hard to listen to Ray if you don't share his strident views. And it can be even harder to get a fair hearing.
When one recent guest — Channel Seven reporter Lee Jeloscek — tried to make a point before Ray could get stuck in, Hadley went off like a Catherine wheel. "No hang on. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to me! Listen to me! Listen to me! Goodbye Lee. You seem to forget, Lee, it's the Ray Hadley morning program."
And even after he hit the dump button, Ray raved on: "I'm not in the habit of being ridden roughshod over by lightweights like you ... I'm not in the habit of allowing blokes like him to overtake my program."
Nor does he confine his scorn to junior reporters. When the (then) foreign minister Alexander Downer refused to dance to his tune in 2005, Ray famously snapped: "You're a pompous dope. That's what you are. You're a pompous dope."
And as Downer spluttered back, "Don't be so bloody rude," Hadley attacked again: "No, I'll be more than rude to you. You're a disgraceful ... you're a disgrace."
Ray's interviewing style may explain why Julia Gillard has refused to come on his program. In August last year, Ray high-tackled her on the carbon tax, when he was invited on to Nova FM (which has offices in the same building). Gillard complained it was a set-up, (although Ray claims he had no idea she would be on), and the pair have not talked since. "I don't think she's a fan," says Hadley.
Despite his hefty audience (only Alan Jones's is bigger), Hadley claims to have little power in federal politics. But he has had at least one big victory. For seven months until February last year, Ray battered away at the Labor government's home-insulation policy, which had led to the death four young men, and, with the help of The Australian, he finally managed to demolish it.
More recently, he has been savaging Gillard over the waste in her school-building program and her carbon tax "lie", while hoeing in to the three independents, Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor, who, he says, have far too much power.
Just about every day, Ray plays Tell me Lies to his listeners or pans Wilkie for his presumption in trying to change the pokies laws. "This guy ran third in Denison, with only 13,000 primary votes and he's trying to change people's lives," he says again and again.
It's hard to believe Ray's relentless rap has no effect on the tone and content of Australia's political debate. But Hadley claims his power is overstated.
"I think sometimes we get far too much credit for what we do," he says.
And far too much criticism? "Yeah, that too."
So what's the secret of Ray's success? Hard work for one: he gets in at 5am and is across everything by the time he goes on air. But he also connects with his audience. Deep down, he's still a battler, one of them, a cabbie who loves Devon sandwiches and old-fashioned bread.
As Hadley tells it, he's just an ordinary bloke with firmly held opinions. When he started at 2UE, he asked the station's legendary breakfast host Gary O'Callaghan upon whom he should model himself.
"What's your name?" asked O'Callaghan.
"Ray Hadley," he replied.
"Well, how do you think you can cope with being Ray Hadley, because my best advice to you is to be that person."
That person is a butcher's son, who started life in a Housing Commission fibro in Sydney's western suburbs. And unlike Alan Jones, Ray really did come from Struggle Street. At four years old he was packed off to live with his grandparents in Eungai Rail, a one-horse town in mid-north NSW, when his mother broke her back and couldn't cope with two young kids. His grandfather worked in a sawmill there; his uncle drove a cattle truck; his aunts worked in factories and sandwich shops.
Back in Sydney for his teens, he left Macquarie Boys High school with a burning desire to be a sports broadcaster. His father laughed at the idea and told him to get off his arse and find a job. "I think that's been part of my character my entire life — to prove people wrong," he confessed to The Australian's Richard Guilliatt.
Young Ray drove taxis and worked as an auctioneer, called dog races at country meetings and knocked on the door of just about every radio station on the east coast. Then, at 26, he had a lucky break. He picked up Radio 2UE's news director in his cab and talked his way onto a casual shift. Seven years later, in 1987, he was picked for the live call of a rugby league game. And after 13 years of success and awards, he was poached by John Singleton to join 2GB on a seven-year contract.
That was 2000, and Hadley was in his mid-40s. It was only then that he stopped renewing his taxi licence.
A millionaire many times over, Hadley now sports gold cufflinks and a beautifully pressed cotton shirt under his expensive suit jacket. But he hasn't forgotten his roots. Nor has he lost his passion. There's an urgency and eagerness about him, as if he still has to try 100 per cent to stay on top.
So why is he is so angry with all those dopes, idiots, pelicans and space wasters when he gets behind the mic?
"Well, that's your perception," he says. "But if I'm really angry about something, I allow myself to get angry. If I get the shits, I let it show."
Hadley has also had spectacular rows with close friends over the years, some of whom he still won't talk to. And in 2011 his wife walked out because his ego was out of control. "I spent some time estranged from my wife," he offers without prompting. "But we're back together again now and it's all good.
"Most of the people I've fallen out with over a long period of time don't share my passion for the industry," he adds. "They don't grab opportunities; they don't work hard; they don't share my work ethic. Even my detractors say, 'Gee, the prick works really hard'."
And that he does. Like his fellow shock jock Jones, Hadley is out twice a week giving his services for free as a charity auctioneer and MC, to raise money for kids with cancer, bushfire victims and other good causes. In May he took his Continuous Call Team up to Eungai to broadcast live and raise $30,000 for his old school.
So what keeps him going? "People who know about these things say I'm driven because of what I came from," he told The Power Index, "My family tell me that, too."