After weeks and weeks of speculation, we finally have it confirmed: Australian larrikin and serious journalist Karl Stefanovic is coming back to Today.
Nine announced the 2020 lineup this morning, which will see Stefanovic joined by current Weekend Today host Allison Langdon and an almost entirely new lineup.
Don’t worry, though – Brooke Boney is sticking around as entertainment reporter. She’s the only one who made the cut in what is being described as a “bloodbath”. Most of the familiar faces to Nine’s audiences are out, including Tom Steinfort and Steve Jacobs. Veteran entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins has been relegated to Weekend Today, where he will host.
Deborah Knight and Georgie Gardner, who led the show for most of 2018 and 2019, are both gone. Deb is now hosting Afternoons on 2GB / 4BC, while Gardner is presenting weekend news.
Joining the Today team in 2020 are Tracy Vo as newsreader, Alex Cullen as sports presenter, and Tim Davies as weather presenter.
It comes after a turbulent few years for Karl, whose highly publicised divorce from his wife Cassandra Thorburn after two decades of marriage and his new relationship to Jasmine Yarbrough ultimately appeared to lose him the hosting job he’d held for 14 years.
It also follows his long-time co-host Lisa Wilkinson sensationally quitting the program in 2017 after contract negotiations broke down, moving to Network 10’s The Project.
Stefanovic was never fully booted from Nine but spent some time in the wilderness, reporting for 60 Minutes.
However, Today ratings plummeted without him. From a high of 301,000 metro viewers in 2017, ratings have sat consistently below 200,000 metro viewers in 2019.
In November, it was all-but-confirmed Stefanovic would be returning to the show. An interview by veteran gossip columnist Andrew Hornery appeared in Nine-owned papers The Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times, quoting Karlos as saying he was “as shocked about this as everyone else”. There was some confusion over whether or not the returning host had jumped the gun; the interview was taken down a few hours later.
“It’s not something that I thought would come up again,” Stefanovic told Hornery. “I thought my time was up, but then, when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking.”
Guess all good things come to those who wait.