Published on Thursday, 17 February 2011 17:07
Oprah Winfrey will record her final episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in late May. Reruns of the program will continue to be available until the end of Summer. Many stations nationwide will be replacing the popular syndicated show with a different syndicated show. Not Chicago, though. WLS-TV in Chicago plans on filling the void left by Winfrey's departure with a brand new, live & local morning show. More details about the new show were officially released today, including the names of the two hosts.
The fact that WLS-TV was going with a live & local product was first reported by Chicago media blogger Robert Feder back in July of last year
. The show does not have a firm start date, but could start as soon as the Winfrey show goes into full rerun mode at the very end of May. The show does not even have a firm title, but since last summer, it has gone by the working title of "Morning Rush." The odds of a name change before the actual launch are very good. The show will originate from the WLS-TV studios at 190 N. State Street in Chicago and hopes to be a fresh new morning talk and information show, that is focused on Chicago. The station is not looking to replace Oprah Winfrey with a clone, but to instead try something that has not been done by the station in many years.
"Morning Rush" (or whatever the final name will be) will be much closer in style to "AM Chicago," the live & local program that was the direct predecessor to "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Oprah herself, got her start as host of that show in January 1984, before it eventually became her own and turned into the TV powerhouse it has. Unlike Winfrey's show, each one hour show of the new program will have multiple topics and themes and will have regular contributors in addition to the two hosts.
Those two hosts were revealed today. The winners of the long search for the new morning show's principal talents are Valerie Warner and Ryan Chiaverini.
Valerie Warner is a traffic reporter and co-anchor on the WGN Morning News who been with the station since the summer of 2005. Prior to her time in Chicago, she has been an anchor/reporter in Flint, MI, Topeka, KS, Albuquerque, NM and Roswell, NM.
Ryan Chiaverini has been a sports anchor/reporter with WLS-TV since the spring of 2006. He also hosted the Chicago Bears-themed seasonal weekend show "The Chicago Huddle" on WLS-TV. Prior to coming to Chicago, he worked a sports reporter in Denver, CO, Billings, MT and Great Falls, MT.
Hundreds or people auditioned for these roles. Using his contacts from with WLS-TV, Robert Feder revealed the names of some of the serious contenders early last month
, and then again later in the month
as the list was boiled down to just a few. Such local media personalities as Roe Conn, Jeff Goldblatt, Jane Boal, Britnney Payton, and D.C. Crenshaw all were under consideration for the hosting positions.
WLS-TV's President and General Manager, Emily Barr, selected a pair of morning television veterans to oversee the new morning show project in Executive Producer Marlaine Selip and supervising producer Cindy Patrasso. Both Selip and Patrasso worked with Phil Donahue on his trailblazing talk show from Chicago, along with the short-lived "In the Loop with iVillage," which was also from Chicago.
Barr, Selip and Patrasso all had a hand in selecting just who would host the new morning show. Barr said earlier today: "We looked at hundreds of tapes and scores of auditions and found we had two enormously talented people right here in our own backyard. We are thrilled to have Valerie and Ryan as the face of our new show."
Executive Producer Marlaine Selip said, "As we went through the audition process, it became obvious that Ryan and Val had the right stuff for our local show. Ryan's warmth and likability as a host was apparent right from the get-go. And anyone who has seen Val's work knows she is smart, relatable and just plain fun to watch."