Morning News Anchor Robin Meade Sings a Song
Morning Express with Robin Meade (Weekdays, 6am-12noon) manages to do the nearly impossible five days a week. The show stands out from the countless other morning news shows on cable TV, the national broadcast networks and who knows how many local TV stations.
Credit goes to the vibe that host Robin Meade creates. That vibe is fun, light but newsy. It's almost like a good sitcom where four good friends hang out. Robin's sidekicks are weatherman Bob Van Dillen, consumer-affairs reporter Jennifer Westhoven and Carlos Diaz on sports.
Robin, a country singer to boot, spoke with TVFirstLook about Morning Express, her new CD Count On Me, and co-hosting the Daytime Emmy Awards.
TVFirstLook: OK, so Morning Express with Robin Meade has a comfy feel like you're hanging out with your friends. How do you create that feeling?
Robin Meade: The first part of the formula is that we try to do a lot of news in a little bit of time. My part is 20-seconds long. As a viewer, you almost know that if you don't like a story, we'll move onto the next thing.
We feel our viewers are younger and they're too busy to sit down for a long interview. Sometimes you're just hearing me as you're brushing your teeth. We're very aware of that.
But we also talk like you do in real life. There are no segues. You might be at a funeral and be really sad but say, "I wonder what's for lunch." It's just human.
As far as being entertaining, I think it's our reactions to stories. We also have what we call the "cereal test." We don't necessarily tell all the details of something like the crime scene in the Jodi Arias trial. Or we don't need to see a basketball player with a bloody nose. That wouldn't pass the cereal test.
And we also run a great selection of news. It's like a dinner plate. You want meat, vegetables but you also want a little bit of dessert.
TVFirstLook: Where does the camaraderie between the four of you come from?
Robin: Well, I've worked with Bob for 10 or 11 years. I don't tell him the news ahead of time and I don't tell him how I'll throw a story to him. So, when he comes off with these great one-liners, it really is him. I love that about him. I can throw him a fastball and he'll throw it right back at me.
With Jennifer, she just has an honest reaction that viewers love. I remember her covering a story about a movie chain planning to ban bringing food in from home. I said, "I didn't think you could do that." She said, "One of my favorite things to do is bring tequila in a flask. Then, I add it to the soda." She said that on national television. That's the kind of show it is - we say what you would say at home.
Carlos is the newest member of our show. I think what works is that we all do our own thing. We each have our role and there is no diva. It makes for a great work environment. If I'm comfortable being my authentic self, that helps them put their guard down.
TVFirstLook: You recently co-hosted the Daytime Emmys. What was that experience like?
Robin: I loved getting the opportunity to host and perform. It came on the heels of the release of my CD.
I thought some of the things that happened were funny. At one point, they told me I had five minutes to change. In TV, that's forever. I was about a minute-thirty in when they ran back and said, "We were wrong, you have 30 seconds." I was like, "I'm naked." I had to make a decision: shoes or bra? I went with the bra.
You just have to be honest with the audience and lift the veil. I went out there and just said, "I don't have shoes on."
TVFirstLook: Your new CD is amazing. How did it come together?
Robin: This is my second album. This one came together fast. I'd like to think that's because I've grown as a performer. In January, I took a week off from work. I went to Nashville and scheduled songwriting sessions twice a day. I wrote a song each morning and another one at night. I was very satisfied with how that went.
Then, I scheduled two long weekends with the band to record the songs. The actual making of music is a very fast process, not counting editing and all that.
What takes a long time is the business side of music. The album was done in roughly two weeks. The marketing, the public relations and deciding what the album should look like and the order of songs takes a really long time. It's also the part of the music business that keeps me awake at night. So, I haven't really slept since January.
TVFirstLook: You tackled some very well-known songs like "True Colors." Any concerns about doing that?
Robin: There's a company I work with who did some market research. They found that if people don't know you well, they're more willing to try a CD if they see a few songs on the back cover they are familiar with.
The songs I chose all fit into the concept of the album, "Count On Me." Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," Chrissie Hynde's "I'll Stand By You" and Garth Brooks' "The Dance" all fit into, "Yeah, you can count on me."
I wasn't nervous about doing covers, except "The Dance" because Garth is so iconic. I didn't think I should do it, but Victoria Shaw, my producer, said it would be interesting to have a female touch to it. She wrote a number of his songs, so I trusted her. I hope I did the song justice.