Women take helm at Today
IT was the Channel 9 flagship battered by PR storms before finally being sunk by a Mexican wedding iceberg.
Now a salvage operation is under way at Today, headed by an all-female crew.
In a move never seen before on Australian breakfast television, Deborah Knight will replace Karl Stefanovic as Georgie Gardner’s morning show co-host as Nine attempts to win over some of the female viewers who abandoned the show last year.
Knight, a 46-year-old mother of three who has served as a fill-in and Weekend Today host since joining the network in 2011, was chosen over a string of rumoured male replacements for Stefanovic, including South Australian outsider Brenton Ragless and Ben Fordham.
In another gender turnaround, Nine has appointed up-and-comer Tom Steinfort in the news reading role previously held by Sylvia Jef- freys. Knight’s appointment, which follows that of former ABC reporter Brooke Boney to replace entertainment editor Richard Wilkins, kiboshed rumours that Gardner was to be joined by Alison Langdon in the hosting chair.
Langdon, who is due to return from maternity leave around April, will co-host Weekend Today alongside David Campbell.
The Today show has seen ratings plunge after Stefanovic left his wife Cassandra Thorburn for shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough.
Following the infamous Uber tapes, in which Stefanovic and his journalist brother Peter were recorded criticising their colleagues at Nine, the show’s fortunes fell even further on the back of Stefanovic’s flashy Mexican nuptials last month.
Today executive producer Steve Burling wants to see Knight and Gardner help lift their ratings within six months and surpass Channel 7’s all-conquering Sunrise.