News of Karl Stefanovic leaving as host of Nine’s Today had barely settled on Wednesday before speculation on his replacement hit fever pitch.
The network announced yesterday (while the morning TV host was still on his honeymoon with new wife Jasmine Yarbrough) that both management and Stefanovic had decided it was time to end his 14-year stint on the breakfast program. Thursday’s newspapers have turned immediately to speculation on who will be his replacement, with focus mainly on names from within the Nine network.
Currently hosting Nine’s holiday version of Today over the Summer break, Adelaide’s Nine newsreader Brenton Ragless was already being tested while Nine was still saying Stefanovic would be back on air in 2019. Ragless was profiled in The Australian’s media section last week, described as the “anti-Karl” that management want on the program.
The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff reports today that Nine is considering an all-female hosting team. (This would follow in the steps of NBC in the US which replaced disgraced Matt Lauer with Hoda Kotb, who now co-hosts with continuing host Savannah Guthrie.) Deb Knight, a regular fill-in host on Today, is currently co-hosting with Ragless over the break. When Georgie Gardner moved back to Today to replace Lisa Wilkinson, Knight moved into Gardner’s weekend news-reading role.
Weekend Today host Allison Langdon is another woman in contention. She’s been hosting the weekend program with Stefanovic’s brother Peter, who left Nine this week too. Langdon is in favour at the network — she also reports for 60 Minutes.
The host of Today Extra (the late morning show following Today each weekday), David Campbell has also been named as a possible replacement. He’s more lightweight than other suggestions, but is a well-liked family man, which would be attractive to management.
Ben Fordham left Today in 2014 and has said in interviews since that breakfast TV wasn’t for him, especially not while his children were young. Despite that, he is reported as a front-runner for the job in multiple outlets today. Fordham still has his 2GB afternoon program, hosts Australian Ninja Warrior and fills in on the program from time to time.
The most out-of-the-box suggestion, Studio 10‘s host Sarah Harris was touted as a possible replacement for Stefanovic earlier this month. The Ten Network’s morning program has been struggling with ratings, personality issues and cast changes since executive producer Rob McKnight was sacked last year. Harris is well-regarded and has a history at Nine, having previously worked as a reporter for Today and fill-in host for Weekend Today. When Wilkinson left Today last year, Harris said she wouldn’t be going back to Nine.
The network’s finance guy, Ross Greenwood, has also been suggested as a possible replacement. Greenwood is Nine’s finance editor, and regularly appears on the program. He’s well-known to viewers, and Seven’s breakfast show Sunrise has stuck with its winning formula of daggy finance dad David Koch as host since 2002.