EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared in Heart of Ohio Magazine in 2014. It is being republished through a cooperative agreement with Richland Source. To read more stories on Heart of Ohio Magazine log on at www.heartofohiomagazine.com.
ASHLAND -- Robin Meade grew up in New London, Ohio. She attended Ashland University and graduated from Malone College with a degree in Radio and TV Production, Programming and Performance. In 1992, she snagged the Miss Ohio crown and finished in the Top 10 of the Miss America Pageant. Robin’s first job in television was as a reporter at WMFD-TV here in Mansfield. Although her schedule is insane, she was kind enough to take a moment to answer some questions for Heart of Ohio Magazine.
QUESTION: It’s a long way from New London, Ohio to Morning Express with Robin Meade. Looking back, how has the journey been?
ANSWER: It’s an adventure! Let me count the cities. From Mansfield to Cleveland, Columbus, Miami and Chicago. There were more than a few stops before I landed at the CNN Center in Atlanta 12 years ago. I’ve learned so much about my field, and the world around us, but even more about myself.
Q: In 2009, you released your book, Morning Sunshine, How to Radiate Confidence and Feel it, Too! Why did you feel the need to share your struggle with anxiety and depression with your fans? How has that changed your life?
A: My thing was if the viewer or reader was going to spend their hard-earned money on something I wrote, I wanted it to impart some helpful information. I wrote about the toughest time in my life (dealing with panic attacks on air) and tried to make it an informative read while still allowing it to be real, funny, candid and engaging.
I also wrote it in a way that I hoped would be enlightening the first time you read it, but an easy reference when you needed a refresher. Because, trust me, when you are dealing with something as nagging as self-esteem or panic attacks, it will not be gone at the snap of a finger! These are issues that sometimes take years to understand and handle.
For me, writing the book was like lifting the veil on a big secret I had hidden for years from the viewer. I felt if I wasn’t the “perfect” anchor, who never bobbled or made a mistake, the viewer wouldn’t “like” me, or choose to watch me, so I would get fired. It’s part of that “I hope you like me” disease, and at the heart of my tendencies as a people-pleaser.
In the book, I detail how I had to learn that it’s okay and (yes, it’s true) sometimes GOOD to have people disapprove of you, and dislike you. That’s a real mind flip for a small-town Ohio gal who read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People in the 8th grade!
Q: Morning show host, singer/songwriter, performer, author. What new worlds are left to conquer?
A: Oh, so much more to do! I joke I may sleep like a regular person someday, but I actually doubt it. So let the 3 a.m. wake-up calls continue, baby. I love what I do, and I love that my team and bosses at HLN are supportive of my endeavors as I “multi-platform,” as they say in the biz.
Am I weird? I think most people cycle through different phases and endeavors during the span of their careers. Maybe I’m different in that I don’t mind doing it all concurrently. For example, I recently added radio duties to my list of responsibilities in the morning. I do the news breaks for NASH-FM in New York City (Cumulus) each morning during my own commercial breaks!
Some folks may think it’s crazy to attempt to do a radio newscast while I’m doing a TV newscast, but I know the country music audience and share their love of the lifestyle and genre! So I felt compelled to be a part of my friend Blair Garner’s new morning radio show in that way.
Besides, where there’s a will, there’s a way! You just may have to be more creative about getting it all done. Oh, and the biggest thing: you may have to depend on the people around you to HELP you make it work. And for that, I’m extra grateful to the folks I work with, whether they’re on my TV team, radio team, or my music family. All the credit to them!
Q: In addition, as host of Ask Oprah’s All-Stars you share the hosting duties with Gayle King. What has it been like to work for one of the biggest stars in America and her BFF?
A: I remember being so grateful Oprah asked me to help guest-host that show, knowing the program was helping kick off her OWN network, and knowing her pal Gayle was guest-hosting another date for a second show with the same cast.
Yet, I wasn’t really sure if Oprah would be around the day we were taping it. Thinking back, it was in front of a studio audience. If they even got wind she was in the vicinity, they’d go bonkers. Like them, I, too, wasn’t sure if she was on-site when we started rolling. But this I was sure of, I wanted her to have a home run with such a gutsy endeavor as starting up a network. Wowza! So yes, I put pressure on myself to do my small part well.
Listen to this: we were headlong into the taping that day, when the executive producer said into my earpiece, “Oprah says you are doing a great job!” It was only then I realized she had been in the control room during the entire taping up to that point. And she liked it! The grown-up journo version of me gave way to the admiring kid version of me.
Remember that scene in The Birdcage movie where Robin Williams’ character is telling the dancer, “You do Fosse Fosse… Martha Graham, Martha Graham… or Twyla, Twyla… or Madonna Madonna… but you keep it all inside.” THAT’S a lot like the party going on inside my brain, after hearing Oprah’s compliment. Because we were in the middle of the taping, I could only smile to myself and feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity. Ha! Love that memory.
Gayle is an incredibly supportive person, who seems to find as much joy in other people’s success as she does in her own. She made a real effort to come to my launch party/concert for my most recent music album, Count on Me. I loved catching glimpses of her from the stage, because she’s someone who loves music as much as I do.
Let me tell ya, even though she had to be up the next morning to host her own network morning news show (CBS) Gayle stayed till the end of my li’l shindig. I knew she was tired when she emailed saying she had to sit up extra straight the next day after she finished her morning show and went to the O Magazine offices to work on that month’s issue. She’s truly a gem!
Q: You may not have reached your definition of “doing it all,” but making albums, writing books, hosting a popular morning show and singing at the Grand Ole Opry is a lot! Of all those things what really brings you the most satisfaction?
A: Oh boy, that’s a toughie! Remember the old song, “Love the One You’re With?” I try to look at all my experiences like that and love each thing the best the moment I’m in that particular activity. I guess that’s high-minded talk for “who says I have to choose?” (Wink.)
Watch Morning Express with Robin Meade every weekday morning from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. on CNN Headline News.