Robin Meade is the anchor of CNN Headline News’ a.m. program, which, starting tomorrow, is rebranded as Morning Express with Robin Meade. Meade joined the network from Chicago’s WMAQ-TV; she has also worked at WSVN-TV in Miami, WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and at Cleveland’s WJW-TV. Robin is an Ohio native and was crowned Miss Ohio in 1992.
1. TVNewser: A morning news program successfully strikes a balance between hard news and features by….
Meade: Sprinkling the features around, with a bigger dose of hard news to balance the ph, so to speak. I think a good morning show also keeps it all brief! At least that’s the way we bake the doughnut.
Hey, think about your own morning routine. You get to hear snippets of this and that when you peek your head out of the bathroom, but who has time to digest a three-minute package in one sitting? Don’t get me wrong, there are those rare newsdays when we all huddle around a tv and consume ourselves with the breaking story (like after the horror of 9/11). But on a day-to-day basis, most of us want to know what happened overnight, if our world is still intact, and if the weather means our short sleeves will look silly at work.
In my opinion, a healthy brief mix of stories is just what the morning doctor ordered.
2. TVNewser: Going up against shows like Today, GMA, and Fox & Friends is:
Meade: Food for my competitive nature, and makes me work hard, because I want some of those viewers!
So many morning shows do their thing, and they do it well. They have a strong fan base to show for it. We have a wonderfully loyal audience. But my goal is to get people who’ve never seen us to sample our product and join the fold. People tell me, “Hey! I didn’t watch you before, but I happened across your channel, stayed for a few minutes…now I’m hooked!” So I want our show to be like the lady in the food court handing out sweet and sour chicken samples: she knows if you sample it, you’ll come back for more.
I stopped looking at overnight daily ratings a while ago because I didn’t want it to affect how I did my job, day in and day out. The ratings thing is such a science…I’ll leave that to the bosses. My concern is that we’re doing great TV, and solid journalism…that speaks to our audience, and gives them the feeling, “Hey, I can start my day now.” If it’s right and we’re not in the witness protection program, the ratings should follow.
3. TVNewser: As a journalist, covering tragedy is:
Meade: Something that’s taught me to appreciate my life right now (you see through the people in your stories that you’re not completely in control of every aspect of your life at any given time)! After years of doing this…I’m able to “leave it at the office” most days. But there are those stories (9/11, Minnesota bridge collapse, school bus crash, etc.) that you just can’t shake at the end of the day.
For example: the shootings at Virginia Tech. I kept thinking about the way these students woke up…thinking they were just going to class, but they never came back! Your heart just goes out to their families. So who am I to say “whoa is me”? I’m the voice, the informer, but they’re having to live it!
In the end I know it’s a privilege to do this job…and I take that responsibility seriously. That said, I don’t think you have to completely separate your emotions from your work: I’m not ashamed every year during the 9/11 anniversary that I anchor with a lump in my throat. In my opinion, you can be human and be a journalist at the same time, as long as it doesn’t affect your objectivity.
4. TVNewser: What I miss about doing local news:
Meade: I miss the connection you feel with viewers of one town: that shared geography, experience, and local bias (sports teams) you share with them (to this day I consider myself a Chicagoan to some extent, even though I was only there six years.) I also miss many of my colleagues in local news…good peeps!
But: I don’t miss the constant stories of shootings, murders, fires, and abandoned babies. It can wear on you because it never stops. I don’t miss the budget constraints (“Here’s a new photog truck, never mind the crank windows”), I don’t miss the revolving door of local news management. I don’t miss how there never seemed to be enough bodies to cover all the stories that needed covering…and I sure as hell don’t miss November sweeps (“Tonight: how shaving your face can make you look younger, ladies!!” What? That’s just weird! And I actually had to do that story!).
After years in local news in Cleveland, Columbus, Miami, and Chicago, it ‘s refreshing to work for a network where all they do is news. But I’ll let you in on a secret: my philosophy is to “LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH”! I loved local news when I was there, I love cable network news at this time. There’s something to be learned and gained no matter where you are!
5. TVNewser: Being a Northerner, life in the South is…
Meade: A breeze! A nice, generally warm breeze, that changes from season to season…but not so drastically that you wear a winter coat every month but August. Ha! I laughed that when we first moved here: I had multiple winter coats with boots and gloves to match. That’s slightly normal for a Northerner. But it’s definitely high-maintenance looking for a Southerner. Honey, down here we break out a real winter coat only once or twice a year. Spinouts due to snow are a rarity. In fact the only kind of doughnuts our drivers do down here is Krispy Kremes!
Atlanta’s a great mix of Southern appeal and cosmopolitan flair. Ya’ll come visit, ya hear?