Richard Wilkins’ emotional tribute to Karl Stefanovic: “World’s best broadcaster and naughty schoolboy”
Following Karl Stefanovic’s departure from Today, the breakfast show has given the veteran co-host an emotional tribute this morning.
Yesterday, Network Nine announced that Stefanovic would be stepping down as co-host after a year of failing ratings and controversy surrounding his private life.
This morning, summer fill-in hosts Deborah Knight and Brenton Ragless addressed Stefanovic’s exit, saying it had been “a big 24 hours for us here”.
The duo, who described Stefanovic as a “stalwart”, passed it over to entertainment report Richard Wilkins who sung praises for the co-worker who he’s shared a desk with for over a decade.
“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.
“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 has asked us to pass on his thanks to you, the viewer, for tuning in, and Karl, on behalf of all your friends and colleagues here at Nine and your millions of fans around the country, we wish you all the best.
“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 also confirmed that although Stefanovic has left Today, he will still be working for Nine.
“Karl is due to finish shooting his show This Time in February and is looking forward to being back on air later next year,” he said.
Knight, who has co-hosted with Stefanovic as a replacement over the years, said he’d had a “huge impact” on the program.
“Massive. It is impossible to overstate,” Wilkins responded.
Yesterday, Nine’s news director Darren Wick released a statement to announce the news.
“Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today show,” he wrote.
“Karl remains on contract with the network and will continue to host (his other show) This Time Next Year.”
Stefanovic’s dismissal follows the exit of his brother Peter from Weekend Today and Today’s former executive producer Mark Calvert.
While on his honeymoon with his new wife Jasmine Yarbrough, Stefanovic released a statement to address his shock exit.
“Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most,” Stefanovic said.
“It’s been a tough time. Thanks for hanging in there. I look forward to seeing you in another capacity at this great network soon.”