Current and former colleagues of Karl Stefanovic have paid tribute to the TV host, after it was revealed yesterday by Nine that he had agreed to “step off” the Today show.
Darren Wick, director of news and current affairs at Nine, said in a statement that while his 14 years on Today have come to an end, Stefanovic “remains on contract with the network and will continue to host This Time Next Year, which records in February”.
Stefanovic’s exit sparked a tribute from longtime colleague and entertainment reporter Richard ‘Dickie’ Wilkins on Today this morning.
“Karl Stefanovic has been a co-host of this great show for 14 years and I’ve had the honour and pleasure, and pressure, sometimes of working alongside him almost every day over that time, and I can tell you from the heart that there is nobody who has worked harder for this show than Karl,” Wilkins said.
“He is a fantastic, intuitive and intelligent journalist. I describe him as an intoxicating mix of world’s best broadcaster and naughty schoolboy.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) December 19, 2018
“There is no secret that the past year or so has been difficult times for Karl, but I can say he has walked into the studio every morning with energy and passion bringing ideas to make the show bigger and better.
“He always strived to deliver the best program he possibly could. It is a tireless gig and it comes with an enormous amount of scrutiny.
“Karl, thank you for all the great work. You have notched up a massive number of flying hours. You didn’t just wake up with Today – Today woke up with you. Good luck, mate.”
Wilkins wasn’t the only one to pay homage to Stefanovic, with former Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson posting the following on Instagram:
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A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson) on
It was widely tipped that Karl Stefanovic would part ways with Today, after B&T reported earlier on Wednesday that Nine had decided not to renew the contract of his brother Peter.
According to media reports, Peter Stefanovic’s removal was a combination of a lack of on-air chemistry, poor ratings and fallout from April’s now infamous ‘Ubergate’ that also involved Karl.
B&T also understands that Karl’s been on the nose with Nine execs for some time.
Wick said an announcement on the new line-up and format of the Today show will be made “in the coming weeks”, with Stefanovic’s fill-in Brenton Ragless having been mooted as the favourite to replace him for some time.
However, The Australian has reported that Nine is looking to change things up in 2019 and is eyeing an all-female line-up for the show, with Deborah Knight and Alison Langdon suggested as candidates to join Georgia Gardner.
The Australian has also reported that the roles of several other Today identities, including Wilkins, newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys (who also happens to be the wife of Peter Stefanovic) and sports reporter Tim Gilbert, are “under review”.
Nine declined to comment on The Australian’s report when contacted by B&T.