Speakers Profile - Ray Martin

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A graduate of Sydney University with a BA and History distinctions, Ray Martin began his media career as a cadet journalist with the ABC in August 1965. His early years were spent reporting from Sydney, Perth and Canberra before his first overseas assignments took him to India and Africa.

In 1969, Ray was appointed the ABC's North American Correspondent based in New York and spent almost a decade reporting for the ABC's major news and current affairs programs both on television "This Day Tonight" and "Four Corners" and radio.

During this period he covered the 1972 and 1976 US Presidential campaigns, the Watergate saga and America at war in Vietnam. He also interviewed the likes of Presidents Nixon, Carter and Ford, soon-to-be Presidents Reagan and Bush and Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger.

When the Nine Network launched its new flagship current affairs program 60 Minutes on 14 February 1979, Ray joined George Negus and Ian Leslie as a founding reporter.

Over the next six years, Ray visited over 40 countries and interviewed everyone from Prince Charles to the rock-band Kiss. He clocked up over a million air miles during this time and won a handful of prestigious awards for his investigative work, including Reporter of the Year (twice) and Best Public Affairs Report (twice).

In February 1985, Ray launched his own daily variety show, Ray Martin at Midday. As the only "live" national variety program in Australia, Midday was a huge success. Ray recorded over 12,000 interviews, featuring almost every contemporary political and pop figure of the time. Special guests who co-hosted the program included Sir Peter Ustinov, Michael Crawford, Joan Collins, Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Shirley MacLaine and Anthony Hopkins.

In July 1992, after seven years at the helm of his hit daytime show, the first of Ray's prime time evening specials aired under the title Ray Martin Presents later retitled Up Close and Personal With Ray Martin. The Specials boasting a lineup of the biggest names in the entertainment business are now some of the highest rating programs on Australian television.

Proclaimed "The Prince of Interviewers" by Harry Belafonte, Ray's move in 1994 from Midday into the host's seat on A Current Affair was a popular move judging from the ratings that accompanied his arrival.

Overnight A Current Affair saw its ratings soar and viewers quickly warm to their new host as the program began a new era "on-the-road". Ray reported from areas stricken by drought, bushfire and flood. And from where the news was breaking: Port Arthur, Rabaul, Vietnam, London, Hong Kong, Thredbo and the USA. A highlight of Ray's time at A Current Affair was the Farmhand Appeal, raising over $19 million for drought affected farmers around Australia.

In 1996 Ray was awarded his fifth Gold Logie Award (tying with top-honoured recipient Graham Kennedy) Australia's most prestigious television award. He has also won three consecutive People's Choice top awards, making Ray's career one of the most successful in Australian TV's 40+ year history.

At the end of 1998 Ray decided to leave A Current Affair to work on other news and current affairs projects and to host Our Century, one of the network's millennium projects and the biggest undertaking of its kind in Australian television history. The series, which screened throughout 1999, charted a nostalgic journey of the events and people that have shaped our nation.

Ray has hosted Nine's State and Federal Election coverage, as well as various other special events such as the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the 1999 World Cup Cricket and Carols by Candlelight. He continues to file special reports for 60 Minutes.In 2014, Martin was the presenter for the SBS series First Contact.

A great believer in the generosity of the Australian public, Ray is the Chairman of The Fred Hollows Foundation, established in 1992 to prevent and treat avoidable blindness in developing countries and to improve the health of indigenous Australians; and is the Patron of the Humpty Dumpty Foundation for Children's Services at Royal North Shore Hospital. He was a full-term member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation from 1991-2000.

Ray was awarded an Order of Australia in 2011 for his journalism, his work with indigenous Australians and his long involvement with charities. His best-selling autobiography, Ray: Stories of My Life was published in 2009 and Ray Martin's Favourities: The Stories Behind the Legends, was published in 2011.