City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Clark Howard joins new HLN weekday show 5 to 7 p.m. with Ryan Smith, Isha Sesay


When Clark Howard cut back his hours last year on syndicated radio, he wasn’t taking his first steps toward an early retirement.

Rather, he’s expanding his TV presence,  joining an ensemble weekday newscast on HLN starting Monday, June 4, dubbed “Evening Express” from 5 to 7 p.m.

HLN, in a press release, said it will be modeled after its successful “Morning Express With Robin Meade,” providing “an energetic, inspirational and solutions-oriented look at the day’s news, accompanied by deeper discussions and reporting on stories and issues that resonate in the American household, including parenting, education, health, personal finance and relationships.”

This means it will have a more conversational tone than a typical evening newscast.

Ryan Smith, host of programming for InSession on TruTV and part of the “Morning Express” team, will anchor. Smith has a background as a sports and entertainment attorney with a degree from Columbia Law School.

Howard, who has hosted a weekend show for HLN since January 2009 and does regular segments for “Morning Express,” said in an interview this morning that his role will be to take the news of the day and “talk about how it affects your life and make it as relevant as possible to the viewers.”

The third member of the team, British journalist of Sierra Leonean descent Isha Sesay, has been an anchor on CNN International and serves as a correspondent on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“They tested different combinations of people,” Howard said. “We have really good chemistry. Hopefully, it will translate on TV.”

Howard, whose focus on his weekend show has been financial matters, may now be forced to comment on other topics – including an area he notoriously knows very little about: pop culture: “One person at HLN handed me a copy of People magazine as a joke and said, ‘Start reading!’ ”

Heard on the radio locally from 1 to 3 p.m. at AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB, Howard will continue to do his radio show at the WSB building, then drive directly to CNN Center to do his HLN show live.

Vinnie Politan, who is currently hosting the HLN 5 to 7 p.m. slot, will continue to work with HLN. A spokeswoman said they are developing another show for him.

UPDATE: I spoke with Sesay, Smith and Scot Safon, executive vice president who oversees HLN, this afternoon.  Smith will stick with InSession while Sesay will continue to work with CNNI.

Late afternoon/early evening news shows tend to be serious and straightforward, a pattern established back in the 1950s and 1960s, when there were three network options. Think David Brinkley and Chet Huntley. Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner. Vestiges of that stentorian, voice of god approach remains to this day with the likes of Brian Williams, Scott Pelley and Diane Sawyer.

HLN wants bring a bit of  that morning talk show esprit de corps to the 5 and 6 p.m. hours.

“Our morning show generates conversation. Nobody is keeping the conversation going at this hour,” said Safon. “There is still a focus on what happened. We want to take on different angles.”

Smith said he wants the approach to be fundamentally upbeat and positive, to help people relax a bit. He also wants to be “solution oriented,” repeating a phrase used in the press release. “How can we help facilitate that dinner table discussion? We want to have stories the whole family can watch.”  He also said they may not necessarily focus the entire time on the big stories but on stories people “care about,” an approach that makes them more “relatable.” (”Relatable” is a popular buzzword in TV news circles.)

He said the key to any good show like this is chemistry. “We genuinely like each other and we like to talk about the news” he said. He said when he first met Howard for 90 minutes, he said, “I wanted to spend the rest of the week with him. He’s a phenomenal person in every way. I’ve known Isha for a couple of years. We’re very good friends.”

Each person brings a different skill set and specialty. Howard’s the consumer business expert. Smith is the legal guy. Sesay has a background in international issues but knows her fair share of pop culture. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to talk about every little subject,” Smith said. “Our friendship and respect will make the dialogues go easy.” Sesay said she will watch both “TMZ” and “60 Minutes,” read InStyle one minute, The Economist the next. Howard can talk politics and even considered running for mayor of Atlanta at one point.

Sesay said she is looking forward to engaging the news in a different way than she does on CNNI, which is more serious and straightforward.

She has worked with a co-anchors before who disliked her and made it difficult to connect on screen. But in this case, she’s confident she, Howard and Smith will meld well. “We can joke with each other. We can josh with each other,” she said. “It doesn’t feel forced. The times we’ve been together, we get exuberant and loud. We’re always chatting and making each other laugh.”

Sesay, who grew up in London, said at first, she wondered if she’d miss the hustle and bustle of that town. Rather, she said, “as I’ve gotten busier at work, I’ve come to appreciate the ease of life in Atlanta. I can get my groceries without it being an ordeal. I am on a first-name basis with my dry cleaners. I know my neighbors [in Virginia Highland.] I can walk around. And I love the people in the CNN building. Everyone is friendly.”

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

20 comments Add your comment


May 22nd, 2012
10:57 am

What happened to Vinnie Politan?

Rodney Ho

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

@paula. Thanks for reminding me. Just included that info in the blog entry. He’s going to keep working for HLN but they are developing another show for him.

Motocross Survivor

May 22nd, 2012
11:04 am

What is HLN? I think Howard *should* retire. And he has a face for radio.


May 22nd, 2012
11:21 am

Time to retire. All his news information is what you can get for free now off the internet at your finger tips. update with the times….


May 22nd, 2012
11:30 am

Good for you, Clark! I think there is a generation out there who does not like your kind approach to problem solving. They want go to the throat and rip people’s eyes out. You are a breath of fresh air. Look forward to seeing you on tv! And please don’t give up radio! I love to hear your problem solving strategies every day I am in my car! thanks for all you have done for the public!

Rhett Butler

May 22nd, 2012
11:35 am

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Just Sayin'

May 22nd, 2012
11:47 am

My best to Clark! He is a breath of fresh air on the airwaves!


May 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

The thing is, Morning Express is successful precisely because Robin Meade is on it. I really don’t want to even think about Clark Howard trying to come up with something like “Morning, Sunshine!” It will not be the same.

Daddy O

May 22nd, 2012
2:38 pm

When they have episode re-runs on the TV will they inform the viewers that it is a “Repeat” or will they use the same approach as WSB radio and let the viewers find out for themselves? I expect Clarkie Clark will just rehash the same ole, same ole, that he’s been using on the radio—Here’s one from the past: Drive to Birmingham and fly as it is cheaper!


May 22nd, 2012
2:47 pm

Way to go Clark! You are funny, intelligent, thoughtful, helpful, and an all around great guy, very likeable on air.


May 22nd, 2012
3:52 pm

Too bad it has to be on CNN.the bias is overwhelming. Why not go to FOXnews. At least it’s balanced.


May 22nd, 2012
4:17 pm

Justin Berber and Selena Gomez are splitting up! OOOMG! have mercy…i have no reason to get out of bed in the morning….beside to go poop : o )

Oh HLN is CNN Headline News

May 22nd, 2012
4:50 pm

It wasn’t until the end of the article that I realized what HLN was.


May 22nd, 2012
6:50 pm

I liked Clark Howard until he became Bortz’s buddy. I hate Bortz ever since he kept referring to Gays as “Queers” among other reasons. How can a watch a guy who supports hate?.


May 22nd, 2012
8:11 pm

i could care less…

Bobby Bobby

May 22nd, 2012
8:13 pm

Why would you put in print where Isha lives? It’s a crazy world. Perhaps you should retract that.


May 22nd, 2012
8:15 pm

dave ramsey’s advice is much better than clark’s


May 22nd, 2012
8:16 pm

Enter your comments here


May 22nd, 2012
8:41 pm

I’ve tired of Clark. Isha Sesay is drop dead gorgeous (and I’m a straight woman, but I can give props when they’re due).

As long as Vinnie Politan will still be around. I did a segment at CNN HLN last year, and told the segment producer that the best split screen on TV is Vinnie Politan and Mike Galanos at the same time. Yum, yum, yum. [And, AJC, since you started that meebo tool bar, my computer screen jumps when I try to type anything. I hate that lower tool bar. Thank you.]


May 22nd, 2012
9:33 pm

Clark, why. Stick to your knitting.