Mike Carlton

Mike Carlton

Mike Carlton is one of Australia's best known broadcasters and newspaper columnists.

In a journalistic career spanning more than 40 years, he has been a news reporter and editor, foreign correspondent, TV current affairs reporter and anchor, radio current affairs anchor, humorist and satirist.

Mike brings a dynamic, experienced and uncompromised edge to news commentary in Sydney and is supported by the unmatched resources of the 2UE Newsroom and the Southern Cross Network. (Credit: 2UE)


Mike Carlton is an Australian media commentator and broadcaster. He currently co-hosts the daily breakfast program on Sydney radio station 2UE with Peter FitzSimons and writes a Saturday column as a left-wing pundit for The Sydney Morning Herald. Carlton in recent times has been noted for his criticism of conservative public figures such as Prime Minister John Howard, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and radio personality Alan Jones, and for his criticism of conservative governments, including the US's Bush administration.

Carlton began his career as a field reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in the mid 1960s. 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. 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 became required listening in London and helped to change the station's financial fortunes. 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.

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 large 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 (5:30am - 9am). 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 as of mid-2007 they remain well behind the top two AM talk stations for the breakfast period. Carlton's former workmate, now rival, Alan Jones continues to dominate the Sydney radio ratings.


In 2001, conservative commentator Piers Ackerman slammed Carlton as "hypocritical" for attending an art exhibition held at a club that bans Japanese and Korean people.

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." He continued: "I'd only go to check that he was actually dead." Carlton later apologised for his remarks. The Daily Telegraph newspaper, citing unnamed sources, claimed that Carlton's career was "on the line" as a result of the comments, that he is "on borrowed time," and that he "had to go" from radio 2UE. (Credit: Wikipedia).


2UE Mike carlton profile





Change at the boys' club, by Sue Javes - 28th January 2008
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Now the biggest egos have departed, 2UE is reshaping its game for the year ahead.

Perhaps one of the clearest signs that it is a new era at 2UE is John Laws's former office. For years the spacious area was furnished with plush carpet, leather couches and two Brett Whiteley paintings, a symbol of Laws's towering presence at the station. In a move away from the culture of ego-tripping stars and obscene salaries, management has made a deliberate decision not to hand over the space to any of the current presenters. Instead, it will be divided into three offices for management use.

Down the corridor, in more modest surroundings, Mike Carlton and his new breakfast partner, Sandy Aloisi, are still in their honeymoon phase after just two weeks on air. It's no secret Aloisi was management's third choice for the critical role. She was approached at the 11th hour after Nine sports commentator Ken Sutcliffe and Women's Weekly editor Deborah Thomas turned down offers. But Carlton says when Aloisi's name was first mooted by program director Greg Byrnes, the idea was so logical and sensible that it seemed extraordinary no one had thought of it earlier.

"It was staring us in the face and we couldn't see the wood for the trees," he says. "She's got this beautiful voice, the journalistic credentials, a really warm and lovely personality, and we've been friends for 15 years."

Until recently, Aloisi had been a fixture at 2UE - initially as a newsreader and later as news director and program director. The strain of managing 2UE's demanding stable of stars, however, combined with tight budget restraints, convinced her to walk away, and in recent months she has been a presenter on ABC NewsRadio.

"I've told her she will now be in the delicious position of throwing star tantrums," Carlton jokes. "Having, in her day, dealt with Jones, me, Laws, Zemanek, Hadley, and been on the receiving end of all that, she knows how to do it."

Aloisi concedes she and Carlton did have a few good stoushes back then. One famous incident made the newspapers when Aloisi, as the new program director, suggested Carlton would benefit from elocution lessons because he occasionally mumbled. The veteran broadcaster was outraged. Aloisi rolls her eyes when reminded. "The best thing about Mike is you can have a stoush and then it is over.

"He, unlike some others, doesn't carryon a grudge or sulk for days."

It's the first time in years that a woman has been given a prime time spot on the testosterone-laden 2UE. Critics who considered Carlton and his previous partner, Peter FitzSimons, too alpha male believe the addition of a woman - a working mother, at that - will help in the battle against ratings leader 2GB. The 2UE breakfast program is currently ranked sixth. With John Laws no longer on air and changes to every shift, the station faces an uncertain year. General manager Simon Ruhfus is prepared for ratings to dip in the first few months as the audience adjusts to the changes. Carlton says he gave up setting audience targets years ago. "You just do the best you can and hope the ratings will follow."

After years of newsreading, the challenge for Aloisi is to sound more conversational and opinionated. "But I don't think she'll be thumping the table," Carlton says. "She's never going to be the female Stan and Ray."