Sun sets on David Koch’s 20-year reign on Sunrise

From accountant to the top of one of Australian television’s most fiercely contested time slots, David ‘Kochie’ Koch has had a remarkable career on Sunrise.

Koch, Australia’s longest-serving breakfast television host, announced he was leaving the Channel Seven show after nearly 21 years at the helm.

The shock announcement was made by Koch on Monday morning, who said it was time for the next generation to step up.

“I don’t want to be a list-clogger,” he said. 

His last show will be on Friday, June 9, and his successor will be announced next Monday, with some speculating Dr Chris Brown will take over.

Brown left rival Network 10 earlier this year on a rumoured two-year contract of more than $1 million at Seven.

Focus on finance

The accountant got his start in the media as a cadet at The Australian in the 1980s, covering finance.

He then joined BRW (Business Review Weekly) in the late ’80s.

Before joining Sunrise, he was Seven’s finance editor. He started on Sunrise in 2002, where he shared the desk in ‘Brekky Central’ with Melissa Doyle.

Following Doyle’s departure in 2013, Koch sat alongside Samantha Armytage until Natalie Barr took over the hosting role.

Sunrise wouldn’t be Sunrise without David Koch. For almost 21 years, I’ve sat at that desk with him and watched as he changed the way breakfast television was done in Australia,” Barr said.

“When they hired him, he said he’d do the job on one condition – that he wouldn’t be a newsreader. And boy, did we get the opposite of that. He’s cut through the PR and the spin and by being himself, got to the heart of every story he’s covered.”

While working on Sunrise, Koch has also served as chairman for Pinstripe Media, Ausbiz and Port Adelaide Football Club.

Koch established Pinstripe Media with his wife Libby. It began as the production company for Kochie’s Business Builders, which started on Seven in 2007.

Ausbiz, a live-streaming news service, was founded by Koch and Kylie Merritt and is dedicated to Australian business stories.

Highs and lows

In October, Sunrise paid tribute to Koch’s 20 years on the show and he reflected on some of its most memorable moments.

Examples included when he attended the late Queen Elizabeth’s lying-in-state, and hosting Sunrise with Katy Perry.

There have also been some controversies throughout those 20 years at the helm – like when he hopped into the back of an ambulance with Todd Russell.

In 2006, a small earthquake led to the collapse of the Beaconsfield gold mine, where Mr Russell was trapped underground with Brant Webb and Larry Knight, who died.

Mr Russell was reportedly a fan of Koch and was sending messages to the Sunrise host via rescuers.

When Mr Russell was rescued some two weeks after the collapse, Koch jumped into the back of the ambulance carrying him.

Some criticised Koch for getting too close with Mr Russell, however, Koch insisted that the miner wanted to shake his hand.

Also in 2006, Koch made an off-colour joke on air about then-prime minister John Howard’s wife Jeanette and opposition leader Kim Beazley. Mr Howard refused to appear on Sunrise after the joke.

In 2013, Koch sparked a backlash for comments made about breastfeeding, and for suggesting the Boston Marathon bombing may have been committed by Irish people.

There were also allegations of racism levelled against Koch, including in 2018 when he made a slavery “joke” in reference to Usain Bolt.

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