Published: December 31. 2012 3:09PM
Written by Stephanie Trotter
Her voice is the first thing to break the morning silence for millions after the alarm clock stops ringing. Robin Meade greets the nation at daybreak on HLN’s “Morning Express.”
Like a warm cup of orange pekoe, the news anchor is smooth, rich and will subtly jump-start your senses no matter the hour.
Meade’s sensibilities were honed growing up in the heartland. Yet the Emmy-award-winner has hit her stride here in the Southeast working within the Turner Broadcasting System empire. While many journalists stick to script, or swing far left or right, Meade walks the perfect line delivering fact, humor and the obvious.
Be honest, you know when she laughs and rips on a story, it’s what we’re all thinking.
Still exhibiting the traits that made her a Miss America finalist, the 43-year-old stays cool under pressure while exuding a warm personality. Recently she dazzled TALK Greenville with her behind-the-scene stories and plans for the New Year, that yes, include world peace.
TALK Greenville: Good morning! We hear you’re just back from Bermuda. How was the trip?
Robin Meade: Hi! It was my first time there. I did a story on how (the PGA) wants to attract more women to the game of golf and I started to play. After a few lessons, I got asked if I wanted to go to Bermuda and play in a pro-am.
TG: How did it go?
RM: (Laughing hard) Can you believe this? My team won and I also won closest to the pin. We couldn’t have written a better story! I’m thinking I have to quit golf now, it’s never going to get better than this.
TG: Congrats! Who did you play with?
RM: I had the former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, Suzy Whaley and the current president of the PGA. It was a scramble, so I thought they are never going to have to use my ball. And, oh my gosh, at the award’s ceremony, we got our award and then they said, “You stay here, you are getting another award. You got closest to the pin.” I said, “You get an award for being close?!” I love this sport! What other sport do you get an award for just being close!
TG: You need to come to Greenville and play in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
RM: If there’s an invite, I’m coming! Especially if there’s a trophy involved!
TG: So you’re new to golf. What did you do growing up in New London, Ohio?
RM: I grew up in a cornfield. Everything we did was school related: cheerleading, music, baton twirling or things you just thought of and made up. I learned to play the piano too.
TG: How did growing up a preacher’s kid effect you?
(Laughing hard) Oh girl, I’m still learning! It’s funny. I didn’t know any different as a kid, I didn’t know until I went to college and then I had to ask, “What’s a PK?”
TG: Your dad’s with the Church of Christ?
RM: He worked in a factory five days a week because he refused to take payment for what he thought was a calling. He would write his sermons and deliver those on the weekends. It was a good lesson that that was his passion and what he felt called to do.
TG: It resonates with you.
RM: Yes. I also had an immediate appreciation of music. One of my first memories is learning to sing in full harmony at church, because I was required to go three times a week.
TG: Singing was your talent when you competed as Miss Ohio?
RM: Back in the day, I was singing show tunes. “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” is what I sang on the Miss America stage.
TG: You made it to the top 10. What was going through your mind?
(Laughing again) It’s hard to explain because we now have “American Idol” and “The Voice” and all these other competitions that may make Miss America seem like a smaller deal. But back then we didn’t have all these other competitions.
TG: Good point.
RM: So when you’re on Miss America, you’re performing for millions upon millions on network television. So when I made it to the top 10, I just kept thinking about people in my hometown who were watching.
TG: When did the journalism bug strike?
(Laughing harder) You know those aptitude tests in school? Well mine came back and it said field of study: communications. But it didn’t say what in that field, and I had to fill in a blank with my career choice. I looked at my friend’s paper and her results were the same and she’d written down broadcast news anchor. And this wasn’t a test, so I wrote it down too! And from then on, that became my idea of what I wanted to do.
TG: How’d that go over at home?
RM: Oh, my mom hates this story. The first time I told her, she said, “Now honey, let’s think about this and write down something a little bit more realistic.” It wasn’t to deflate me, it was just a good example of how blue collar and manufacturing the area I came from was, and how far-fetched and un-thought of the idea of being on TV was in my little town.
TG: You’ve fronted the morning news on HLN for more than a decade now.
RM: I think I’m in the perfect job for my set of capabilities and that is to gently get people awake in the mornings and send them on their way. I’m picky about the stories we run. I feel a special guardianship for our viewers and I take it seriously.
TG: And yet you can bust out on the desk with refreshing adlib.
RM: I came on board about a month before 9/11. When 9/11 happened, all news took a different tone and it was a long time before I even gave myself a license to smile. Slowly, I learned from my then executive producer who said, “You know when you’re yourself, it helps people ease into their morning.” It changes the dynamic of the show. So I might crack up, laugh out loud or go, “That’s stupid!” You know, I think it’s stuff the viewers are already thinking.
TG: What’s been your favorite story?
RM: Jumping out of plane with George Bush Sr., the 41st president of the United States, for his 85th birthday. It was live on our channel. The whole time I kept thinking, “What are you going to say in the live shot when we land?” I’m pretty sure that kept me from dying of a heart attack. Isn’t that funny?
TG: So what happened?
RM: Mr. Bush was such a delight. When we were done, he asked me and my husband to come to his Kennebunkport, Maine, house. Oh my gosh. He left us with a lifetime of great stories about being with him and his family. Everyone was around for grandpa’s birthday and his sense of humor is still very intact and he’s still very engaged in politics. I was just very impressed.
TG: As we leave, any goals for the New Year?
RM: We’ll I’m sure they include world peace. Oh gosh, I may adopt another rescue dog. Put out another album… I’m working on that now. And get better at my golf game and play in charity tournaments.
TG: Your first album, “Brand New Day,” was country and well received.
RM: Yes. I don’t know when the next one will be out. It takes me a little bit longer to finish it because I have to take vacation days and drive up to Nashville. It will be out some time in the New Year.
TG: As for golf, we’ll reach out to the folks at BMW.
RM: Great! And let folks know, we are highly aware that people in Greenville are the heart of our viewership and you better believe that as a child who grew up in a cornfield, I’m constantly looking at making sure the heart of our viewership is covered and not forgotten.
TG: Thanks, and we’ll see you in the morning… Sunshine!
|Robin MeadeJEREMY FREEMAN|