Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, who enjoyed a run across Sunrise, Seven Sport and Seven News prior to his local council duties, has spoken with Mediaweek about what might have been….
Zempilas was asked if he was offered the job of replacing David Koch on Sunrise?
“I do get asked about this a bit. I mean, look, it was never offered to me as such. But I will say this, and I won’t put names to those who were saying it, but when it was first mentioned to me about coming over to do Weekend Sunrise, I’d done some filling in. Clearly, they’d had a bit of a look at me. Andrew O’Keefe was finishing up, and they needed to find somebody to become the new weekend host alongside Monique Wright. It was mentioned to me that Weekend Sunrise was an opportunity for whoever went in, to probably put their hand up for when and if David were to go. The conversation was no more specific than that. If any television company is flying somebody backwards and forwards from Perth for a considerable period, I guess you’re entitled to think they’re not doing this for fun. There would be cheaper and more cost-effective options,” he said.
“At no stage was I told David’s finishing on such and such a date and we want you to do it. I had a sense though that if it went well, there were other possibilities. I’ve always said, David deserved the right to go when he was ready to go. That’s exactly what happened. Covid and other things meant that that (Sydney-based) stint came to an end for me.
“If I had been offered the job, and I wasn’t doing the other things that I’m now doing, we would have seriously considered it. For someone like me, that is just about the best job available in television. I feel privileged to have had two years of weekends doing it.”
Zempilas also reveals he knocked back overtures from Foxtel and Nine
“I had spoken to Foxtel a couple of times in the earlier years of their footy broadcasts. Brian Walsh had always been very generous in his praise, which I’ve always appreciated. But I was a Seven man. Towards the end during those Nine years (at 6PR), I guess it’s fair to say there were some conversations with Nine. They asked if I couldn’t continue to work for both (Seven and Nine) might I entertain the prospect of becoming a Nine person rather than a Seven person,” he suggests.
“My time ended on 6PR because I was elected Lord Mayor in September of that year which was coming to an end. I’ve got to say this, both Seven and Nine were incredibly supportive of me and me being on each other’s platforms. And at no stage did Tom Malone, or for that matter Kerry Stokes, say to me you’re going to have to come off that one to continue on this one.
“I was very grateful for that, especially grateful obviously of Seven.”
Zempilas is hoping for a second term as Lord Mayor of Perth.