Why Robin Meade Brought Morning Express to New York

By A.J. Katz 

Robin Meade anchored a fashion-focused Morning Express from New York this morning. But it’s not because the HLN anchor has any special affinity for haute couture.

“Believe it or not, we didn’t move the show for Fashion Week,” Meade told TVNewser during an interview Friday morning at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom.

“Our studio is getting an update that was supposed to take a day, and we got kicked out! We looked at where we could go, and what we could highlight while keeping our ‘fastlane’ format. We knew that Fashion Week was going on in New York, and we could get some guests before heading back to our Atlanta studio on Monday. We felt that this was a great opportunity.”

Meade, sports anchor Hines Ward and business correspondent Jennifer Westhoven were joined by some special guests, including former NFL star turned fashion designer Terrell Owens and Project Runway Season 4 winner, fashion designer Christian Siriano. Later, a group of runway models strutted down a makeshift catwalk.

“Hopefully it worked out great for the viewer,” said an always-optimist Meade.

Sunday marks 15 years at HLN for Meade. She joined Sept. 11, 2001. Meade also holds the distinction of being the longest-serving female morning show host on national TV. A steady presence at a network that is undergoing a sea change. Dr. Drew Pinsky and Nancy Grace, who hosted the 7 and 8 p.m. hours respectively, are leaving the network. CNN Legal View host Ashleigh Banfield will take Grace’s 8 p.m. spot effective October 17. NBC News’ Erica Hill is returning to HLN this fall to host a dayside program, and Michaela Pereira, formerly of CNN’s New Day, debuted her new HLN morning show MichaeLA on July 11th.

“I love the direction of the network right now,” said Meade. “Everything that is going on seems natural and normal. I love that [HLN chief] Ken [Jautz] is preaching a return to hard news roots, and I like that we will be more closely aligned with CNN and will be able to use their power in terms of news generation and the reach that they have. That said, we have consistently been a news program, and our format won’t change. We will continue to bring the depth and the coverage that our viewers are accustomed to, and of course it will continue to be fast-paced.”

Meade’s favorite moment over her 15 years on Morning Express? Aside from noting long-running working relationships with meteorologist Bob Van Dillen and Westhoven, it’s jumping out of a plane with a certain former president.

“I jumped out of a plane with President George H.W. Bush when he turned 85,” says Meade. “We had been doing our daily ‘Salute the Troops’ segment, and the US Army Golden Knights parachute team had been bugging me to do a story, asking me to come jump with them. When the opportunity came around to jump with President Bush, how do you say no to that? I was the only journalist to jump with and interview President Bush, and it was a live broadcast. I jumped out of the plane, and instead of saying ‘I’m going to die!,’ I asked myself ‘what am I going to say to him when I land? I’m live!'”