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Mike Carlton (born 31 January 1946)[1] is an Australian media commentator and author. He formerly co-hosted the daily breakfast program on Sydney radio station 2UE with Peter FitzSimons and later Sandy Aloisi.

Mike Carlton
Mike Carlton Author talk 002 (11166139603).jpg
Mike Carlton at a book signing in 2013
Born (1946-01-31) 31 January 1946 (age 73)
OccupationColumnist, radio host, journalist, author
Morag Ramsay

Carlton frequently criticises conservative public figures such as former Prime Minister John Howard, former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [2] and radio personality Alan Jones, and conservative governments, including the United States' Bush administration.[3]



Carlton's father Jim Carlton was an athlete who competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. In 1930, he set an Australian national record for the 100 yards, which was not broken until 1953. He would have been selected for the 1932 Olympics but left sport to become a Catholic priest. During World War II, Mike Carlton's mother was engaged to another man, who was a Catholic but she was not. She took instruction in the Catholic faith, and Father Jim Carlton was assigned to her. They fell in love, he left the priesthood, and they married. They had two sons, Mike and Peter. Jim Carlton died in 1951.[4]

Mike Carlton has been married twice; to Kerri (two children) and Morag (one child).

Early careerEdit

Carlton began his career as a cadet journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in 1963, aged 17. His file reports as an ABC war correspondent in Vietnam earned him great admiration within the industry and a promotion to chief of the ABC's news bureau in Jakarta, Indonesia. Garnering further accolades on his return with the pioneering 1970s ABC-TV current affairs program This Day Tonight, he moved to his first radio program as host at Sydney commercial station 2GB in the early 1980s, this is where "Friday News Review" was born. Carlton dominated morning radio for a number of years until Alan Jones was moved into the breakfast slot at 2UE in March 1998, and Carlton's ratings started to falter. In the early 1990s he was a presenter for London's LBC Newstalk 97.3FM, then under Australian ownership. At first he presented the drivetime programme, but it was as presenter of The Morning Report breakfast programme that he came to prominence, winning a prestigious Sony Radio Academy Award. This programme helped to change the station's financial fortunes.[citation needed] He later wrote a novel set at a London talk radio station called Off the Air, which became a best-seller in Australia in the late 1990s.

Talk show hostEdit

In 1994 Carlton returned to Sydney to host a morning program on music station Mix 106.5. He then moved to the drive slot at 702 ABC Sydney. Building a reasonable following and establishing a format that he has largely retained in the years since, he was then poached by commercial broadcaster 2UE. Carlton hosted 2UE's drivetime (3pm-6pm) program for a number of years, before moving to the breakfast timeslot (5:30 am – 9 am). In a move to improve ratings, 2UE management teamed Carlton with media personality, fellow Sydney Morning Herald columnist and longtime friend of Carlton's, Peter FitzSimons on the breakfast show in 2006. The ratings for the show gradually improved, however in mid-2007 they remained well behind the top two AM talk stations for the breakfast period. [5]

Peter FitzSimons left the show at the end of 2007, replaced by Sandy Aloisi from 2008. Carlton's former workmate, now rival, Alan Jones continued to dominate Sydney radio talkback.

A long-running feud with fellow 2UE broadcaster Stan Zemanek, noted for his conservative views, had become a feature of Carlton's recent career prior to Zemanek's death in mid-2007. On 17 July 2007, Carlton made comments regarding his late rival. Responding to a listener's question as to why he wouldn't attend Zemanek's funeral, Carlton replied that it would be "an act of sheer hypocrisy ... I loathed him." [6] He continued: "I'd only go to check that he was actually dead."[6] Carlton later apologised for the remarks,[7] which had been the subject of criticism from fellow radio presenters and 2UE staff.[8]

A highly popular feature of Carlton's long-running radio program (and indeed his previous radio career before he joined 2UE), was the weekly political satire segment, Friday News Review. The segment was well known for its fast-paced sketches, topical skewering of high-profile politicians, celebrities and sportspeople across the nation and around the world, and its extremely accurate voice-impersonations of the leading characters. Most of the characters in the segment not portrayed by Carlton were portrayed by Australian actor and television personality Josh Zepps. Friday News Review was one of the last political satire programs on mainstream commercial media in Australia.

On 18 September 2009, Carlton retired from his long-running 2UE Breakfast show after over 26 years on Australian morning radio citing an unwillingness to continue with early morning hours and a desire to spend more time with his family and newborn son.[9]

Newspaper columnistEdit

He was a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, initially being sacked from the position on 29 August 2008, for refusing to write his column during a strike by journalists at Fairfax Media.[10] After a lengthy campaign by Herald readers and the appointment of a new editor he was invited to rejoin the newspaper in 2009.[11] He resigned from the paper when disciplinary action was taken against him by the Sydney Morning Herald for using offensive language in several responses to emails received from readers after criticism in his column of Israel's 2014 Gaza offensive.[12]


He has published three books on Australian naval history:[13]

  • Cruiser: The Life And Loss Of HMAS Perth And Her Crew (William Heinemann Australia, 2011) ISBN 9781864711332
  • First Victory (William Heinemann Australia, 2013) ISBN 9781742757636
  • Flagship: The Cruiser HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan (William Heinemann Australia, 2016) ISBN 9780857987778


  • On Air, William Heinemann Book published by Penguin Random House Australia, 2018, ISBN 978-0-85798-780-8



  1. ^ Carlton, Mike (29 January 2011). "Whinger! Salute to another great Australian trait". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  2. ^ "The More Things Change". ABC-TV 'Australian Story'. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  3. ^ "Innocence lost amid Labor's list of horrors". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  4. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 22 May 2016
  5. ^ "Dance star stumbles in the ratings". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 May 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  6. ^ a b Connolly, Fiona (18 July 2007). "I loathed Zemanek, says Carlton". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Carlton under fire for on-air Zemanek attack". IBN News. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  8. ^ Connolly, Fiona (19 July 2007). "Zemanek slur puts Carlton's career 'on the line'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Carlton off the air, back in the herald". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  10. ^ "SMH columnist Carlton sacked over strike". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 August 2008. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Mike Carlton quits radio, returns to SMH". 7 September 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Carlton, Mike". Retrieved 6 March 2013.