Late Night Live is a radio program broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National and podcast and streamed over the World Wide Web.

Late Night Live
Country of originAustralia
Home stationABC's Radio National
Hosted byPhillip Adams
Opening themeFrom 1st movement of Violin Concerto in E minor by Giuseppe Brescianello
WebsiteOfficial site

Since 1991, the program has been hosted by farmer, writer and public intellectual Phillip Adams,[1] who refers to the program by its acronym 'LNL', which during 2016 morphed into 'FNL'.[clarification needed] He also calls it "the little wireless program".[2] Previous hosts include publisher and journalist Richard Ackland, and Virginia Bell, formerly a judge of the High Court of Australia.[3] Recent guest hosts include: Tracey Holmes, Jonathan Green, Elizabeth Jackson and Andrew West.

Often the setting for a serious and learned discussion of politics, science, philosophy and culture, the program aims to host cutting-edge discussion of public debate, and present ideas and issues not yet covered by other Australian media.[4]

The programme is broadcast from 10:05 pm until 11 pm Mondays to Thursdays, and is repeat-broadcast at 3:05 pm from Tuesdays to Fridays. During January of each year, selected segments from the previous 10 or 11 months are re-broadcast, in lieu of fresh programming.

In 2011 a special online retrospective was compiled to celebrate 20 years behind the LNL microphone, called "In Bed With Phillip". Over 200 of the best interviews from these years are now available to listen and download.[5]

To coincide with Adams' 20th anniversary at LNL he wrote Bedtime Stories: Tales from My 21 Years at RN's Late Night Live, published by HarperCollins,[6] outlining why he decided to join RN, his early experiences with producers, talent and what the time has meant to him personally.

In February 2024 Adams announced that he will step down from his hosting role later that year.[7] In May 2024 it was announced that his last show will be on 27 June 2024 and his replacement will be David Marr.[8]

Regular contributors


Regular contributors include Laura Tingle, chief political correspondent for the ABC's current affairs TV show 7.30,[9] who each Monday night discusses the most recent national political issues. Each Tuesday, American journalist Bruce Shapiro, director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and Adams usually discuss contemporary USA politics, though the discussion can often be wide-ranging and include global politics. Every second Wednesday, Adams is joined by Ian Dunt, editor-at-Large of,[10] to discuss the latest political, cultural and economic news from Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Europe. Less frequent regular contributors include the economist Satyajit Das and Tess Newton Cain, from Griffith University, who reports monthly on the Asia-Pacific region.[11]

In earlier years, prominent regular contributors have included Margo Kingston and Beatrix Campbell, discussing the political culture of Australia and Britain respectively, while one of Kingston's successors was the conservative Liberal Party staffer and commentator Christian Kerr, who gained notoriety when revealed as the author of the pseudonymous Hillary Bray political gossip column published by Crikey (which he helped establish).[citation needed]



Guests include high-profile thinkers, writers, journalists and players from the literary, cultural and political world. Over the past 30 years guests have included Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Gerry Adams, Arundhati Roy, David Frum, Isabel Allende, Kevin Rudd, Oliver Stone, and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal, Arthur Miller, Arthur C. Clarke, Jessica Mitford, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam.[citation needed]



Most programs are divided into three segments, each segment delineated by a sting, a short piece of instrumental music lasting about 30 seconds, though occasional one-hour conversations involving one or more guests are becoming more frequent.[4]

Adams' style is conversational and casual, not adversarial. He introduces his guests using their first and last names, followed by their qualifications and notable positions and achievements, and subsequently addresses them by their first name. When a guest is a university professor occupying a named chair, Adams usually asks the guest to briefly explain who or what the chair is named after. The pace is relaxed. Adams generally exerts subtle but firm control over the conversation's direction.

For many years, Adams has referred to his audience as "Gladys", the joke being that only one person is listening and that is her name. With the advent of podcasting and web streaming, Adams has since added "Poddies" to his listenership, and will often talk or refer to his "Gladdies and Poddies". He also has Noddies (who fall asleep to his program) and Maddies (who write him vitriolic letters),[4] and now "Tweethearts" to include those who follow him on Twitter.



The program has a staff of four: Adams, an executive producer, and three producers (who each do one night shift per week). A technical producer also puts the program to air each night. Though Adams may make suggestions, the producers decide on the topic and guests, and they suggest questions, which Adams may take or leave.



In 2020 LNL monthly downloads had grown to over 1 million and shows no sign of lessening. It is the second most popular of all ABC radio programs, following Richard Fidler's Conversations.[citation needed]

In 2010 the estimated cumulative audience (number who listened during the past week) was 350,000, and the show was downloaded 217,463 times in August. Seventy five percent of downloads are to Australia, 6% to the US and 3% to Britain. Sixty five percent of listeners are university graduates; 90% are forty or older; 40% hold "AB" (e.g., white collar) jobs while 45% are not in the workforce (retired or home duties – not unemployed), and 55% are women.[4]

Theme music


The current theme music is from the first movement of Giuseppe Brescianello's Violin Concerto No. 4 in E minor, Op. 1, performed by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Until March 2016, the theme was "Eliza Aria" from the Wild Swans ballet by Elena Kats-Chernin.[12] This replaced "Russian Rag" also by Kats-Chernin, which Adams jokingly referred to as the 'Waltz of the Wombats'. Several different arrangements had been used: clarinet, trumpet, marimba, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass; flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass; flute, piano, cello; bassoon with piano; clarinet with piano; violin with piano and unaccompanied piano.

The previous theme, adopted soon after Adams took over as host, was the third movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto for two harpsichords in C minor (BWV 1060).


  1. ^ "Twenty Years of Phillip Adams on LNL". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  2. ^ "About Us". ABC Radio National. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  3. ^ Adams P. "Twenty years before the mast". The Australian. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Luker, Philip (20 April 2011). Phillip Adams: The Ideas Man – A Life Revealed. JoJo Publishing. pp. 189–206. ISBN 978-0-9870734-6-4.
  5. ^ "In Bed With Phillip", 20 years of Late Night Live on ABC Radio National
  6. ^ "Bedtime Stories". HarperCollins Australia. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  7. ^ Laura Todd (6 February 2024). "Phillip Adams to farewell his Gladdies and Poddies" (press release). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 March 2024.
  8. ^ Maddox, Garry (24 May 2024). "'It's going to be different': David Marr set to replace ABC doyen Phillip Adams". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 May 2024.
  9. ^ "Laura Tingle – ABC News". Australia: ABC News. Retrieved 10 July 2021.[failed verification]
  10. ^ "UK politics magazine". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Dr Tess Newton Cain". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Have your say on the new Late Night Live Theme Music"[dead link]