Adrienne Bankert (pictured at top) is ready for this. It might seem intimidating to launch a three-hour live national newscast on a fledgling network, but she has done this kind of thing before.
Long before she was selected as the host of Morning in America on NewsNation (formerly Nexstar's WGN America), and after graduating from USC with a communication/media studies degree, she was one of the hosts of five and a half hours of local programming in California. "I can handle a three-hour show, definitely," she said.
Morning in America, telecast from 7 to 10 a.m. EST beginning this week, is something different, and very reflective of Bankert's sunny side up personality. "We live in a very tense world today, and there's so much coming at you rapid fire," she said during an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I want to join people for breakfast and have them feel the warmth and the calm that exudes from the screen."
Bankert will not be on the attack. Oprah Winfrey is a model for her. "I see my mission as not picking sides, not judging or vilifying anyone, and treating everyone with grace and kindness," she said. "Wherever we're coming from, wealthy or poor, from whatever political perspective, we all have our battles. America is mostly in the middle, and the middle -- the everyday people -- often get left out."
The reporting will be abetted by national correspondents around the country, as well as the usual weather and need-to-know information. Morning in America will tap into the work of 110 newsrooms around the country, and 5,500 local journalists.
Most recently, Bankert was a New York-based national correspondent for ABC News, with a wide-ranging portfolio that included covering the 2016 and 2020 Presidential campaigns, the 2018 school shooting in Florida, the rescue of young soccer players from a Thailand cave (with a cameo from Elon Musk) and the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Bankert's reports appeared on Good Morning America (GMA), Nightline and World News Tonight, and from 2017 to 2019 she was a member of GMA's weekend anchor team. "My work at ABC prepared me for what I'm doing now," she said.
The positive tone does not mean that Morning in America will duck the tough subjects. From her base in Chicago, Bankert said she intends to go in depth on health issues, including COVID-19 booster shots, the nursing shortage, care for children and much more. Mental health will also be a focus, as well as housing and employment/minimum wage questions.
There will also be entertainment segments, of course, and Bankert is well prepared there. For ABC, she interviewed Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, Viola Davis, Harrison Ford and Will Smith. Her favorite, though, was Dwayne Johnson. "He made it to the highest echelons of acting, but the focus of my interview was on his work as a humanitarian and family man," she said. "He is very kind and gracious, always." Some hoped-for "gets" on the new show: Bruno Mars, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. "I'm not sure if we'll have live music, but I hope so," she said. "People want to get out again, and that means live music and sports."
Bankert, one of seven kids, is the author of Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone. Its message would seem to fit with the persona she will project on her three-hour television program. "We're going to err on the side of being thoughtful," she said.
NewsNation is the Nexstar Media Group's only national cable-originated television channel. Formerly known as WGN America, it runs entertainment programming and films for part of the broadcast day, and news programming weeknights in the morning and from 6 to 11 p.m. ET in the evenings (with encore presentations available until 3 a.m. Monday to Friday). It became NewsNation on March 1. The channel reaches 75 million television households across the country. In addition to cable, NewsNation also is available through YouTube TV, FuboTV, Hulu, Sling TV, Vidgo and AT&T TV. The programming is always available from the NewsNationNow app and at NewsNationNow.com.
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