David Carr: Anchor Changes at the ‘Early Show’ Won’t Work, The Network Needs to Think Bigger

By Alex Weprin 

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In this morning’s edition of The New York Times, media columnist David Carr tackles the recent changes at CBS “The Early Show.”

Specifically, Carr argues that the changes being made by executive producer David Friedman and CBS News and sports chief Sean McManus are minor tweaks, while what is really needed is a rethinking of the entire morning show concept.

The morning news-and-chat hierarchy calcified a long time ago — the “Today” show, then “Good Morning America” then “The Early Show.” Calling up the farm team isn’t going to have millions of Americans waking up and saying, “Hey, let’s see what the new guys are doing over at CBS.”

Broadcast television is a business built on habit — no more so than in the morning, when viewers mindlessly flip the television on with their first cup of coffee. The inertia is profound and cuts both ways. An object in motion — in this case the “Today” show, with nearly twice the viewers of “The Early Show,” will remain in motion. It will get the hot bookings, the big guests and the tune-ins.

Carr does present some possible ideas for what can be done, although the probability of CBS actually taking him up on them are quite low. Among the ideas:

Creating a show produced and hosted by young people (or as Carr calls them, “people who have not reproduced”). Such a show would tackle different subject matter in different ways than the legacy programs.

Escape New York and move the show to someplace like Chicago. Would the in-studio guests be as strong? Maybe not, but it would be more likely to resonate with the rest of the U.S.

Go all Webby on us, and create a TV/Web hybrid ala ABC World News Now, which has served as a fertile proving ground for anchors and reporters.

What do you think? will the changes at “The Early Show” change your morning viewing habits? Let us know in the comments.