WLS-TV names new morning show hosts

WABC-TV in New York City reveals Oprah replacement – a newscast.

ABC-owned WLS-TV has finally chosen its hosts for its new morning show to succeed The Oprah Winfrey Show at 9 a.m. – WLS weekend sports anchor Ryan Chiaverini and WGN-TV morning news reporter Valerie Warner. The series’ working title is Morning Rush and is expected to debut sometime around Memorial Day, when Oprah ends original episodes.

News of this story first broke Thursday on Robert Feder’s blog at Time Out Chicago’s website.

Ms. Warner’s last day at WGN-TV was Friday, where she bid farewell to the staff of WGN Morning News, performing her final “Friday Dance” with the crew.

Chiaverini and Warner auditioned and beat out many others, ranging from ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith to Chicago’s Best co-host Brittany Payton to former Studs host Mark DeCarlo. Morning Rush is being shot in front of a studio audience at WLS’ State Street facility – the same one where Oprah Winfrey got her start hosting A.M. Chicago (which of course, evolved into The Oprah Winfrey Show.)

Meanwhile, sister station WABC-TV in New York has announced its Oprah Winfrey replacement – a local 4 p.m. newscast, which is scheduled to debut on May 26.  WABC is planning to build a streetside studio on Lincoln Ave. in Manhattan to house its newscasts, similar to what WLS has on State Street. While others were “surprised” at WABC’s announcement (is TV Week a clueless website these days, or what?) , the move was expected by many industry insiders, since WABC did not purchase any new syndicated strips for this year, or went after existing programming.

Meanwhile, other ABC O&Os (WPVI/Philadelphia, KGO/San Francisco,  WTVD/Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN/Fresno) are also expected to follow suit with a 4 p.m. newscast to replace Oprah. KABC-TV in Los Angeles announced a few months ago it was replacing Oprah in its weekday 3 p.m. time slot with The Dr. Oz Show.

As for Morning Rush, WLS appears to have made a good choice with Chevillini and Warner and Rush should do decently well in the ratings, given WLS’ rating dominance. And while there were many detractors to this decision – look at it this way – at least WLS didn’t hire Gary Collins, the dull-as-a-box-of-Chex-cereal host of inane 1980’s daytime talk show Hour Magazine (a proud member of The T Dog Media Blog Hall of Shame.)