re DEFINING MORNING TELEVISION
Edited by Paul Westfal
Photography By Amy Graves
KTLA launched the KTLA Morning News in July of 1991. The show's innovative approach and viewer appeal took the TV industry by surprise. The show had better than its network competitors like Good Morning America and Today, in the Los Angeles area. The show's remarkable success soon gave rise to imitators across the country.
KTLA Morning News new team Mark Krisky, Michaela Pereira, Frank Buckley and Sam Rubin
The original program, now known as the KTLA Morning Show, was anchored by Carlos Amezcua and Barbara Beck, with Mark Kriski doing weather and Jennifer York in a helicopter advising Angelinos of area traffic. Initially, the show's emphasis was primarily on news. Sam Rubin soon joined the team reporting on the entertainment beat broadening the scope and giving the show more of a Hollywood slant. In 2003, Michaela Pereira joined the show.
Although it is no longer primarily a news show, one of the first significant moments for the Morning News came in February of 1992, when a series of rainstorms hit the Southland, causing severe flooding in the San Fernando Valley. ABC, NBC and CBS aired their pre-taped morning shows, while KTLA, filling a need, set aside its normal programming and provided extensive, ongoing coverage of the floods.
Over time, the show's format became a mix of news, entertainment, and in-studio guests. Local stories were, and still are, reported by a team of causal yet informed correspondents such as zany veterans Bill Smith and Gayle Anderson. The show's relaxed and friendly banter has become its signature. Quickly, the KTLA Morning Show grew to become the highest rated locally produced morning program in the country!
"I think that the type of communication and banter we have among ourselves sets the tone for the show," said Sam Rubin. "Also, this is spontaneous, live TV. Neither we, nor the viewers are ever quite sure what's coming next. That's what keeps it interesting. Sometimes we get magic; sometimes we're thrown a curve. I've been put in so many strange situations since I've been on the show that there's really nothing that can embarrass me any longer."
"I'm basically the new kid on the block," adds Michaela Pereira. "When I first came here I was told to prepare myself because this station was run unlike anywhere else I've ever worked. This sounds like a cliché, but it's true. Unlike the corporate news stations, working at KTLA is like joining a family - both on-air and behind the scenes. It is that connection that we have with one another that makes the show click. We each do our own preparation before we go on, but most of the show is spontaneous. It's as though the audience is joining a conversation among friends and that's what they react to."
Producer John Hensley and Jessica Holmes
Like most broadcast outlets KTLA strives to meet the challenges of the changing information and media topography. With twenty-four hour cable channels, YouTube, MySpace and bloggers posing as would-be journalists, it is a more fast-paced and challenging world than it was even five years ago.
Last Fall, one of the show's original anchors - Carlos Amezcua left KTLA to join another local station. Moving from a nighttime slot veteran newsman Frank Buckley took over the vacated slot on the Morning News. During our photo shoot we asked him to comment about his new anchor position.
"In short, it's an honor. This is the program that pioneered local morning TV news in this country. It's part of a storied news department and TV station. I'm proud to work here."
Frank goes on to say, "I moved to Southern California when I was 12 years old and so anchoring with Hal Fishman, a man I'd grown up watching and admiring, was heady stuff for me. To continue to work with the likes of Stan Chambers every day is something I never take for granted. It's a privilege to do what I do with the people I get to work with."
He continues, "We have new owners and they're trying new things, but the basics of news coverage remain the same. We want to be accurate, fair, balanced, and first. We want to put stories in the proper context and provide perspective. We want to cover Southern California better than everyone else. But we're also about having fun. We have a blast every morning and I've grown to really enjoy the company of my fellow Morning News anchors and behind-the-scenes folks. We try to live by the philosophy of taking the job seriously while not taking ourselves seriously."
"YouTube changed everything," offers Sam. "Now anyone and everyone can capture an image or video clip, post it and possibly have it picked up and viewed by millions. Celebrities can never let their guard down. Just about everything they do can be recorded and posted in a matter of minutes. These changes in how information travels doe not change the way we report the news or do our jobs, but it is true that you have to be ready to react much more quickly than before."
"One upside to this world of the Internet, e-mails, and text messaging, is that our viewers are continually in touch with us," concludes Michaela. "It used to be that viewers would communicate by mail and phone. Now, as soon as we report a story or discuss a topic, we know exactly how the viewers feel. That, at times, can be daunting, but on the whole it's a good thing. Our viewers don't just watch the show - they are participants."
As they all agree, the KTLA Morning Show works because of the chemistry among the hosts. Although it reports the news of the day, the show's primary emphasis is on human-interest stories and connecting with its audience.
KTLA MORNING NEWS @ 9
Morning television is always seeking shows to fill the important 9-10 AM slot with shows like Regis & Kelly and The VIEW, for example.
KTLA extended its highly rated 7-9 AM show with a format that included the anchors and guests informally discussing topics of the day with extemporaneous dialog.
Now, the 9 o'clock hour features three of the station's popular female personalities - Michaela Pereira, Cher Calvin, and the most recent addition to the team, Jessica Holmes. Between their discussions of topics aimed mostly towards the female demographic are news and weather updates. And, all of this is done without the angry venom, rants and sarcasm seen elsewhere!
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