When NBC Universal purchased the Atlanta-based Weather Channel, peppy “Today Show” meteorologist Al Roker quickly figured this could be a great marriage for him, too.
He approached Weather Channel executives earlier this year and suggested a show before his daily 7 to 10 a.m. stint on “The Today Show.” Called “Wake Up With Al,” the 6 a.m. show starting Monday, July 20, will be co-anchored by Roker and existing Weather Channel anchor Stephanie Abrams.
“If you have Bob Costas, why not use him for the Olympics?” Roker said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This seemed like a perfect fit. I just wanted to make sure there was a way to do it without killing myself.”
Roker said he’s already up at 3 a.m. in the morning each day: “I just have to put my pants on a little earlier.”
NBC built him a separate studio at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City with a 103-inch high-definition interactive touch screen. (”Whiz bang technology!” he said.) Abrams will work out of Atlanta headquarters.
“He’s personable. He’s likable. He’s humorous. It’s a pretty safe venture for the Weather Channel,” said Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at Horizon Media, an independent media services company.
Geoffrey Darby, executive vice president of programming, agreed that the move is a no brainer. “Mornings are the Weather Channel’s primetime,” he said.
The Weather Channel’s ratings are typically highest on weekends. During the week of July 6, the top-rated program was “Weekend View” on Saturday mornings with 462,000 viewers.
“First Outlook,” the current weekday 6 a.m. show, drew 185,000 to 228,000 viewers last week. (In comparison, repeats of “Married With Children” on TBS brought in between 500,000 and 700,000 viewers that hour.)
“Wake Up With Al” will, of course, focus on the weather, including the signature “Locals on the 8s.” But the network is also going to use other NBC news operations, with headline summaries from MSNBC and CNBC anchors.
Darby said the network did focus groups and found people typically flip around at 6 a.m., catching some weather on the Weather Channel, then another network for news. He hopes by providing a bit of non-weather news on “Waking Up With Al,” viewers might stick around a bit longer.
Logistically, Roker said it will take him only five minutes to walk from his Weather Channel studio to “The Today Show.” And if there’s a big breaking weather story, he said he could stay at the Weather Channel and report from there for the NBC crowd.
TVNewser got Abrams and Roker together for an interview: