Re­laxed for­mat brings re­ward

Karl Ste­fanovic’s road to a Lo­gie was long, writes Guy Davis

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

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.

To­day

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