Relaxed format brings reward
Karl Stefanovic’s road to a Logie was long, writes Guy Davis
EVEN if you’re something of an early bird, there’s a good chance Karl Stefanovic was up before you. After all, the Today co-host’s pre-dawn schedule means his alarm clock is set for a 3.15am wake-up call.
It’s an ungodly hour to get out of bed, true, but Stefanovic and his colleagues on the Nine Network breakfast program are starting to reap the rewards.
After a period when its direct competitor, Seven’s Sunrise, had won over viewers with a more relaxed, informal approach to delivering the news of the day, Today is steadily reclaiming its audience by aiming to combine information and entertainment.
Of course, one of the secrets of a successful breakfast TV program is assembling a line-up of presenters who viewers are happy to share a cuppa and a slice of toast with.
Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson and newsreader Georgie Gardner have certainly won over viewers in that respect but Stefanovic’s Gold Logie win earlier this year would seem to indicate he’s definitely the people’s choice.
For his part, Stefanovic plays down his victory.
‘‘I never, ever in my life thought I would win a Gold Logie,’’ he smiles, shaking his head in disbelief. ‘‘But breakfast TV does attract a large and loyal audience, and when one of their own is up for an award, viewers feel a great sense of loyalty.’’
A journalist with Nine’s news for five years before taking on the Today role, Stefanovic admits he found it difficult at first to report on major stories, such as the Queensland floods or the Japanese tsunami, in Today’s more informal manner.
‘‘That’s been a bit of a breakthrough this year, covering serious news stories in a manner that’s relaxed and conversational,’’ he says.
‘‘Those stories are all about information, though. If I’m asking about the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, I need to know as much about the situation as the spokesperson.’’
Despite his new-found ease, Stefanovic calls his shift from the newsroom to the Today studio ‘‘the biggest transition you can make’’ and he credits his colleagues for helping smooth the way.
‘‘Going from being the newsroom’s Los
show host Karl Stefanovic. Angeles correspondent to Today . . . it literally takes years to relax into having a normal conversation in front of the camera. It takes a lot of on-air miles to be comfortable. And who you’re doing it with matters a lot.
‘‘Lisa is the calmest person I’ve ever worked with in terms of ease in everyday conversation. I’ve worked with some wonderful people with different skills, all the girls I’ve presented with have been great in their own ways, but Lisa is the calmest and most natural in terms of having that conversational style in front of a camera.’’
And it’s that relaxed chemistry among the show’s presenters and contributors, combined with its ability to confidently handle tougher stories, that has turned Today around in recent times, Stefanovic believes.
‘‘It’s been a long, hard battle but I really think we’re more even now than we’ve been in a long, long time.
‘‘It’s stability more than anything else, I think – we’ve covered big stories extremely well, right from the beginning of the year. The team is really cohesive; we’ve really centred-in on what we’re all about.’’
Today: Weekdays, 5.30am, Nine, NBN.