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About the book
  • Published: 1 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9780857987808
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $49.99
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On Air




On Air is Mike Carlton's story, no holds barred.

Mike Carlton was born to controversy. His father Jimmy, a renowned Olympic athlete and later a Catholic priest, married his mother after a whirlwind wartime courtship. This scandal was hushed up at first, but eventually it made headlines. Six years later, Jimmy Carlton died in his wife’s arms, felled by asthma.

It was a tough beginning. Mike would have a Sydney suburban childhood where every penny counted. Unable to afford a university education, he left school at sixteen to begin a life in journalism that would propel him to the top, as one of Australia’s best-known media figures. In an often turbulent career of more than fifty years he has been a war correspondent, political reporter, a TV news and current affairs reporter, an award-winning radio presenter in both Sydney and London, an outspoken newspaper columnist and a biting satirist. In later life he realised a lifelong ambition -- to write three bestselling books of Australian naval history.

On Air is his story, no holds barred. With characteristic humour and flair, Mike tells of the feuds and the friendships, the fun and the follies, writing candidly of the extraordinary parade of characters and events he has encountered in the unique life he has led.

  • Pub date: 1 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9780857987808
  • Imprint: William Heinemann Australia
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $49.99

About the Author

Mike Carlton

In a working life of more than 50 years, Mike Carlton became one of Australia's best-known media figures. He has been a radio and television news and current affairs reporter, foreign correspondent, radio host and newspaper columnist.

He was an ABC war correspondent in Vietnam in 1967 and 1970, and for three years was the ABC's Bureau Chief in Jakarta. He also reported for the ABC from London, New York and major Asian capitals. In television, he was one of the original reporters on the ABC's groundbreaking This Day Tonight in the 1970s. He also worked for Nine Network News, and A Current Affair.
In 1980 Mike turned to talk radio, first at Sydney's 2GB with a top-rating breakfast program, and then for four years in London at Newstalk 97.3FM, where he won a coveted Sony Radio Academy award in 1993 for Britain's best talk breakfast show. His radio satire on current affairs, Friday News Review, was "must listening" in Australia and the UK.

In television, he reported and hosted Indonesia: A Reporter Returns, a three-part documentary for SBS; he worked on Radio 2UE as a broadcaster for many years and wrote a long-standing column for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mike has had a life-long passion for naval history and is the author of Cruiser, First Victory and Flagship.

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Praise for On Air

“Mike Carlton unpacks his crowded life: from the ABC's merry prankster in the sixties to coming of age in Vietnam to the radio star that video could never kill. ”

Sarah Ferguson

“Mike Carlton seems to have lived several lives. Annoyingly, each one more entertaining than the last”

Andrew Denton

“Rascal, rebel, rabble rouser, and a bit of a top spunk - Carlton's wit is sharp enough to shave your legs. It really should be registered at police headquarters as a lethal weapon. This hilarious, pithy, witty tale gave me a severe case of laughter-related quip-lash”

Kathy Lette

“Carlton paint[s] vivid, visceral pen portraits of those he has encountered ... This book is engagingly written, and frequently amusing, with Carlton prepared to send himself up and acknowledge his own faults, limitations and excesses. There are also contemporary resonances, ranging from attacks on the independence of the ABC to the treatment of women in the media”

Bridget Griffen-Foley, Sydney Morning Herald

“A page-turning, poignant biography”

Australian Women's Weekly

“I'd say you could hardly find a better guide than this to what's happened to us in Oz over the past 55 years ... Carlton delivers soundly on Indonesia, Vietnam and the UK, where he spent time as a correspondent.”

Annabel Lawson, Country Style

“They'll say what they like about the Sydney media world over the past six years, but they won’t say it lacks colour, and this book has the lot.”

Peter FitzSimons, Sun-Herald

“On Air ... won me. It is warm, funny, witty and charming as well as sensible, knowledgeable and at times brutally honest. For those millennials who believe the world began on the day they were born, On Air is also a lucid and useful history lesson of what life was like in the second half of the 20th century ... You can almost hear Carlton talking from the pages in the same glib, radio cadence that captivated audiences for three decades. There is no doubt: he was bloody good at it and in this book he demonstrates a deep understanding of how radio works, connecting the person at the microphone to an audience on a one-to-one level ... Carlton made his name as an irreverent reporter/raconteur and much of this comes through in his memoir. But, in keeping with his persona of multiple characters, he also shows great reverence for friends, family, the art of broadcasting -- and life itself. It’s a terrific read.”

Mark Day, Australian


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