Morning Show Hosts Day
annually on September 27th
Morning Show Hosts Day is dedicated to watching and showing appreciation for hosts of morning television shows and is designed to educate about morning show hosts and how they came into their roles. Ernie Kovacs is considered to be the first morning show host. From 1950 to 1952, he hosted the first morning television news program, Three to Get Ready, in Philadelphia. Kovac's show focused on entertainment, news, and weather. Morning television shows of today gear their content towards two audience groups: those preparing to head to work, and those who will be watching the whole program. Thus, the early morning portions focus on harder news—news from the previous day and overnight news, and on weather and traffic reports, while the later portions focus more on softer news—on lifestyle, human interest stories, and entertainment.
The big three national networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS, all have flagship morning shows: Today, Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning. Kovacs and Three to Get Ready were the inspiration for Today, the first national morning show, which first aired on January 14, 1952, and has remained the top national morning show for most of its run.
Dave Garroway hosted Today for its first nine years. In 1961, John Chancellor took over for a year, and Hugh Downs held the reins from 1962 through 1971. Frank McGee hosted from 1971 until his death in 1974. One of Barbara Walters' early prominent roles was as host of Today, from 1974 to 1976. Jim Hartz hosted for the same years. Tom Brokaw was a Today host for five years, from 1976 to 1981. He went on to be the longtime anchor of NBC Nightly News.
Jane Pauley became the second woman in the host chair when she took over for Barbara Walters. She remained in her role for thirteen years. Bryant Gumbel was another longtime host, remaining on the show from 1982 to 1997. Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley in 1990 but was replaced by Katie Couric in 1991 when she decided not to return after being on maternity leave. Couric hosted for fifteen years, and then the baton was passed to Meredith Viera, who hosted for five years. Ann Curry replaced her for a year. Matt Lauer hosted from 1997 until he was fired due to inappropriate sexual behavior in 2017. Savannah Guthrie joined Today in 2012, and Hoda Kotb joined in 2018.
CBS has struggled to maintain a prominent morning show, but they were the first to take on Today when they debuted The Morning Show in March of 1954. Its hosts were Walter Cronkite and Charles Collingwood. Jack Paar soon took over for Cronkite, and he was followed by John Henry Faulk and then Dick Van Dyke. After even more host changes, The Morning Show became Good Morning! in 1956 with Will Rogers, Jr. as host. In 1957, CBS tried something new, when country singer Jimmy Dean began hosting The Jimmy Dean Show. It was off the air by the end of the year, and CBS didn't have a new morning show—or morning show host—until the CBS Morning News came on the air in 1963. It focused on harder news, with hosts like Mike Wallace, Joseph Benti, John Hart, Hughes Rudd, Bruce Morton, Richard Threlkheld, and Lesley Stahl lending their talents.
In 1979, Morning, with a full name that included whichever day of the week it was, such as Monday Morning and Tuesday Morning, went on the air. It broadcast six days a week, with Bob Scheiffer hosting on weekdays and Charles Kuralt on Sundays. Kuralt eventually took over all six days, and the name was changed simply to Morning. Dianne Sawyer joined Kuralt on weekdays, and then Bill Kurtis replaced Kuralt on weekdays. Kuralt remained on Sunday Morning and was succeeded by Charles Osgood and then Jane Pauley. The CBS network continued to lag behind the other two networks with their morning shows. It didn't help that Captain Kangaroo was also broadcast in the morning on the network until the early 1980s, and limited the time for the morning news show from two hours to one.
CBS Morning News began in 1982, lasting until 1986. In 1987, it was replaced by The Morning Program. Hosted by Rolland Smith and Mariette Hartley, it didn't last long, and CBS This Morning replaced it in November. It still couldn't compete with Today and ABC's Good Morning America, and in 1999 it was replaced with The Early Show. The show's hosts, Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson, both left in 2002. Julie Chen and Harry Smith came in and were there until 2010, with others taking up hosting roles during those years and until the show ended in 2012.
A new show, CBS This Morning, which had the same name as the morning show from the eighties and nineties, came next, being hosted by Erica Hill, Gayle King, and Charlie Rose. Norah O'Donnell replaced Hill. Rose was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in 2017. John Dickerson replaced him until 2019, when he left, as did O'Donnell, to join 60 Minutes and take over CBS Evening News, respectively. Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil filled their spots at the desk. CBS This Morning became CBS Mornings in 2021.
The last of the big three networks to broadcast a morning show was ABC. AM America debuted in 1975, with Bill Beutel and Stephanie Edwards at the host desk. Good Morning America replaced it later in the year, being hosted by David Hartman and Nancy Dussault. Sandy Hill replaced Dussault after a few years, and she in turn was replaced by Joan Lunden. Good Morning America began to rival Today in viewership around this time. Charles Gibson took over for Hartman when he retired in 1987. Some other hosts in the years since have been Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Michael Strahan.
Some other prominent morning shows have been The View, a show created by former Today host Barbara Walters and hosted by women of different ages and backgrounds, and Live, which has had hosts such as Regis Philbin, Kathy Lee Gifford, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, and Ryan Seacrest. There are a number of Sunday morning political shows, too, such as Meet the Press, with hosts such as Tim Russert and Chuck Todd; Face the Nation, with hosts like Lesley Stahl, Bob Schieffer, and Margaret Brennan; This Week with hosts as George Stephanopoulos, Martha Raddatz, and Jonathan Karl; Fox News Sunday with hosts like Chris Wallace and Shannon Bream; and State of the Union, which has had hosts such as Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. There also are many local and regional morning shows with their own hosts. Whether they are on the local, regional, or national stage, morning show hosts provide viewers with news and entertainment, and are watched and shown appreciation today with Morning Show Hosts Day!
How to Observe Morning Show Hosts Day
Some ways you could mark the day include:
- Watch a morning show, on your own or with friends.
- Share with others who your favorite morning show host is and why they are your favorite host.
- Research your favorite morning show hosts, learning their stories and about how they came into their roles.
- Learn about morning show hosts who are considered to be the best of all time.
- Watch landmark clips of morning shows, such as the opening segment from Today's first broadcast, Today's 30th anniversary broadcast, or the September 11, 2001, broadcast of Today, which was on air as the terrorist attack on America unfolded.
- Read a book about morning shows and their hosts such as Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television, or From Yesterday to Today: Six Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show.