Kate Ritchie is no longer part of Nova’s syndicated drive show alongside Tim Blackwell and Joel Creasey. She will be replaced by Ricki-Lee Coulter.

Coulter has been filling the void on the drive show in recent months alongside Blackwell and Creasey, due to Ritchie’s extended absence.

The new show, “Ricki-Lee, Tim and Joel” kicked off today.

Ritchie took a break from the “Kate, Tim and Joel” show last year, saying she needed time for herself and her family to re-energise.

Then in January, she said she would be “away for a few more weeks”. As time ticked on, however, speculation mounted about when, if ever, she would return to the drive show.

It’s been widely rumoured that Ritchie will move into Nova’s Sydney breakfast show “Fitzy and Wippa”, currently helmed by Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald and Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli.

In the press release today, Nova said detail’s about Ritchie’s next move would be revealed on Friday.

Her statement simply said: “I’ve had an incredible eight years as part of Nova’s drive team, and I wish Ricki-Lee all the luck in the world. I’m thrilled to be taking on an exciting new challenge and I can’t wait to share what I’m doing next.”

Coulter said she was pumped to officially be joining the Nova family.

“I love Tim and Joel like the brothers I never had but always wanted, and I have been having so much fun in the studio with them – they are the best in the business. I have so much love for Kate and I’m so happy I’ve been able to help out on the drive show over the last year,” she said.

In the most recent radio ratings at the end of last year, Nova had a 9.8% share in drive in Sydney, an 8.7% share in Melbourne, 17.2% in Brisbane, 11.6% in Adelaide and 18.4% in Perth.

Her co-hosts added: “Is there anything this girl can’t do? We’re so stoked that Ricki can fit us in around her current schedule of ‘world domination’. Music, TV and now radio with us. Her energy gets us all up and about each and every day – fingers crossed we can both keep up.”

Peter Charlton, Nova Entertainment’s CEO, noted the trio’s chemistry.

“Nova’s drive show has constantly reinvented itself, hosted by some of the best broadcasters in the business, something that has kept it at number one in its time slot for so long. Kate Ritchie has played a huge role in this success and remains an important part of the Nova family. We want to thank Kate for all she’s done for the show and the Nova Network. We’re looking forward to sharing her next exciting project,” he said.

Coulter came to prominence on the 2004 season of “Australian Idol”. She now co-hosts a revived version of the show on Channel 7. She’s also hosted “Australia’s Got Talent”, and previously appeared on Nova 96.9’s Sydney breakfast show in 2010 alongside Merrick Watt and Scott Dooley.