ABC bosses have reportedly narrowed down the search to find a replacement for Q+A host Stan Grant who is stepping away from presenting duties after being targeted with racist abuse.

While many contenders are familiar ABC talent, one frontrunner is perhaps less well known but has been taking on larger roles at the public broadcaster.

On May 21, ABC managing director David Anderson apologised to Grant, a Wiradjuri man, who had said that “not one ABC executive” had publicly defended him.

There’s no time frame for how long Grant will step down from presenting the program. He said he doesn’t know when – or even if – he will return.

This means ABC will have to draft the major league presenters to fill the role in the short term while also possibly announcing a more permanent replacement.

According to The Australian’s Media Diary column, the ABC is said to be wary of replacing an Indigenous man, who has stepped down due to racism, with a white man.

A frontrunner to take on the Q+A role, at least on an interim basis, is RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas.

Karvelas is likely to present at least two weeks’ worth of Q+A from May 29, The Australian reported.

ABC Radio Melbourne presenter Virginia Trioli has previously done presenting stints on the program and would be a top tier contender to take on Q+A.

However, it’s reported she’d unlikely want to take on the gig full time at present.

Former ABC radio and presenter of the since cancelled show Frankly, Fran Kelly, is not believed to be in the running.

One name being tossed up in the air as a longer term replacement for Grant may be less familiar to some viewers. But Dan Bourchier is highly regarded at the ABC.

The Australian reported that Grant already had his eye on Bourchier as a possibility to eventually succeed him given he’s also an Indigenous journalist.

Bourchier worked for National Indigenous Television before becoming Sky News’ Northern Territory bureau chief.

He began presenting the ABC News in Canberra as well as the ABC Canberra breakfast show in 2017.

Bourchier now appears nationwide on the ABC as a co-host of ABC’s political discussion show The Drum and is the broadcaster’s correspondent on the Voice to Parliament.

It is believed that some in the ABC are on board for Bourchier to host an upcoming special Q+A from the Garma Indigenous cultural festival, held in the Northern Territory in August if Grant hasn’t returned.

Grant had hosted Q+A for less than a year when he chose to step aside.

In a lengthy statement, Grant revealed the breaking point was vile criticism directed at him following his discussion of colonisation on the ABC’s coverage of the coronation of King Charles.

“Since the King’s coronation, I have seen people in the media lie and distort my words. They have tried to depict me as hate filled. They have accused me of maligning Australia.”

He said, “nothing could be further from the truth” and his ancestors would not allow him to be “filled with hate”.

“I don’t take time out because of racism … I take time out because we have shown again that our history — our hard truth — is too big, too fragile, and too precious for the media.

“I am writing this not because I think it will make a difference. No doubt the haters will twist this, too, and trigger another round of racism,” he said.

Grant has also called out the ABC bosses.

“Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me.

“I don’t hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.”

ABC director of news Justin Stevens released a statement saying Grant has been subjected to “grotesque racist abuse”, including threats to his safety particularly since the ABC’s coronation coverage.

“It is abhorrent and unacceptable,” Mr Stevens said.

“He was not the instigator of the program. He was asked to participate as a Wiradjuri man to discuss his own family’s experience and the role of the monarchy in Australian in the context of Indigenous history.”

The ABC’s managing director David Anderson apologised to the journalist.

“Stan Grant has stated that he has not felt publicly supported,” Mr Anderson said.

“For this, I apologise to Stan. The ABC endeavours to support its staff in the unfortunate moments when there is external abuse directed at them.”

Mr Anderson also agreed to launch an investigation of ABC’s responses to racism impacting staff.

“The Chair and Deputy Chair of the ABC’s Bonner Committee have asked me to conduct a review to investigate and make recommendations about ABC responses to racism affecting ABC staff, and what we can do better to support staff who face it,” he said.

He said he was “dismayed” that Grant had been subjected to such “sickening behaviour”.

Image credit: Instagram

This article first appeared on Over60.