ABC Radio’s Mark Colvin dies aged 65

Colvin had been battling a rare auto-immune disease for over 20 years

ABC Radio’s PM presenter Mark Colvin has passed away aged 65. He had been struggling with a rare auto-immune disease for more than 20 years.

Colvin first joined the ABC as a cadet in February 1974, after graduating from Oxford University.

A prominent part of the ABC for almost four decades as a reporter, correspondent and presenter, Colvin was admired and respected by colleagues and audiences alike for his intellect, sharp wit and integrity.

LISTEN: Journalist Mark Colvin reflects on almost three decades of reporting

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie said: “For many Australians, Mark’s steady and measured voice as host of PM brought them the essential news of the day and kept them informed about events of national and international importance.

“We will miss him enormously, and extend our thoughts to his family and friends.”

ANC News director  Gaven Morris said: “Mark was one of Australia’s finest journalists. He leaves an unfillable void as a journalist, a colleague and a friend.

“He was an important part of the ABC community as a mentor and teacher to young reporters and as a voice of wisdom and experience to many older ones. Our reporters and producers felt strengthened by his presence in the newsroom and emboldened by the sound of his voice on our airwaves.”

ABC shared the news of the passing on its website and social media this morning. Colleagues and other media insiders have paid tributes to the radio veteran this morning.

Statement from the family of Mark Colvin

Today we lost our beloved Mark.

The family would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Prince of Wales hospital, as well as the community, the ABC, his friends and colleagues, who have stood by him and supported his career and life.

At this moment of grief, we request the family be left to mourn in private.

Mark has asked that donations to the Prince of Wales Hospital Trust be made, in place of flowers.

Looking back at Mark Colvin’s career

Colvin first joined the ABC as a cadet in February 1974, after graduating from Oxford University.

He went to work on the newly-founded 2JJ (the precursor to triple j) and spent three years presenting news, interviewing and producing current affairs and documentary specials. A year as a TV news producer in Canberra followed, then a year as one of the first reporters (along with Jenny Brockie, Paul Murphy and Andrew Olle) on Nationwide.

In 1980, at the age of 28, Mark was appointed the ABC’s London correspondent, travelling to cover such major stories as the American hostage crisis in Tehran and the rise of Solidarity in Poland. He returned to Australia in 1983 and was the founding presenter of The World Today on ABC Radio.

The following year, Mark went to Brussels as the ABC’s Europe Correspondent, covering the events right across the continent as the Cold War began to thaw and Mikhail Gorbachev began the process that would lead to the lifting of the Iron Curtain. That meant, among other things, broadcasting live from the history-making Reagan-Gorbachev summits in Geneva and Reykjavik.

From 1988 to 1992, Mark was a reporter for Four Corners, making films on the French massacre of Kanaks in New Caledonia, the extinction of Australia’s fauna, and the Cambodian peace process, among many others. His film on the Ethiopian famine won a Gold Medal at the New York Film Festival and was runner-up for an International Emmy Award.

In 1992 Mark was posted to London as the ABC’s TV Current Affairs Correspondent, mainly reporting for Foreign Correspondent, The 7.30 Report and Lateline. His language skills and long European experience paid off in stories such as the rise of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France, the Balkans war, and the revelations of how corruption and organised crime had infiltrated Italy’s post-war governments.

In 1994, after a visit to Rwanda and Zaire, Mark was taken ill with a rare autoimmune system disease, which nearly took his life. Many months in hospital followed.

Mark spent a further 18 months back in Europe before returning to Sydney in 1997 to take up the position of Presenter for ABC Radio’s PM, interviewing many of Australia’s political leaders and leading coverage of major international events such as the Arab Spring.

In 2016 he authored the book Light and Shade: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son – the incredible personal story of a father waging a secret war against communism during the Cold War, while his son comes of age as a journalist during the tumultuous Whitlam and Fraser years.

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