WHEN an Uber driver leaked the details of a private phone conversation between Karl Stefanovic and his brother Peter earlier this year, it made headlines.
One thing from the phone call was clear â€” the Today show co-host had some issues with his workplace and colleagues.
Today, Daily Telegraph columnist Annette Sharp has revealed the man tipped as most likely to fill the Stefanovicâ€™s shoes should he leave the role â€” and heâ€™s a bit of a dark horse.
According to Sharp, Channel Nine Adelaide newsreader Brenton Ragless â€śhas hurdled a field of higher profile Sydney newsmen and is currently Nine bossesâ€™ preferred choice to replace Stefanovic at Today â€” which could be sooner than Nine boss CEO Hugh Marks had originally planned given Stefanovicâ€™s apparent disaffection for the program he hosts and the ugly public disclosure of a private conversation he and younger brother Peter had in an Uber vehicle earlier this yearâ€ť.
Ragless replaced Stefanovic in the chair at Today during the Christmas break, â€śprompting executives to sit up and take noticeâ€ť.
The 41-year-old, who co-hosted the show with Sylvia Jeffreys, is â€śabsolutely delightfulâ€ť, according to Nine insiders who spoke to the Telegraph.
If Sharpâ€™s predictions are correct, it could get a few noses out of joint. The hosting job is expected to one day go to Stefanovicâ€™s longtime understudy Ben Fordham, newsreader Michael Usher (now at Seven), Stefanovicâ€™s brother, Weekend Today presenter Peter Stefanovic, â€śor, at a stretch, 60 Minutesâ€™ reporter Liam Bartlettâ€ť.
After shedding 30kg in recent years, Ragless, the son of an Ash Wednesday firefighter, is â€śmatch fitâ€ť, as Sharp puts it.
The family man (who is father to a young baby) has had an unorthodox start in the news game â€” he has a background in bus driving, running PR for his dadâ€™s Eden Hills firefighting unit and radio presenting.
Having helped Nine Adelaide out with news crosses to fire zones during his days in PR, Ragless was already well-regarded at Nine when he applied for the weatherman job in 2008. After landing the gig, he then made the unlikely jump to the news anchor role in 2015, something possibly no Australian TV weatherman has done before.
Ragless possesses a natural â€śun-Sydneyâ€ť everyman style, something Nine executives are drawn to.
â€śIn Ragless, executives have spotted someone who is utterly himself â€” and not just a Stefanovic clone as one Nine insider put it last week,â€ť writes Sharp.
He would also be â€śexcellent value for moneyâ€ť (Stefanovic reportedly makes $3 million a year).
But weighing possibly more in his favour than all of that is the fact he has a profile in South Australia.
Nine is traditionally weak in the ratings there and chases rival Channel Sevenâ€™s tail across the day starting at dawn when South Australians â€” and their counterparts further west in West Australia â€” turn on Sunrise.