The AM show on Three kicked off Tuesday morning, if not with a hiss and a roar, certainly dollops of sunshine and good summer vibes. Ryan Bridge was the same lovely man viewers got used to last year after the sudden departure of Duncan Garner from our screens, but Mel Chan-Green was a revelation. Seen predominantly as a news reader prior to her new gig, she slipped comfortably into her new role, taking more of a lead than Amanda Gillies did, and has a warm and endearing interaction with her co-hosts.
Bernadine Oliver-Kirby was the professional we’ve become used to over the years, bringing wit and credibility across news and sports, without the ingrained cynicism that was Mark Richardson’s hallmark.
Discovery would like us to believe that AM is going to be a completely new way for Kiwis to get their morning news fix. Time will tell if this is true. Certainly, there’s a brand-new set, and a new team who are, based on the first morning’s showing, super energetic, bringing all their experience and genius to the show. The first obvious change is the start-time; starting with AM Early at 5.30 for those super-early risers who want their international and business news first thing – Aotearoa’s first news bulletin on TV.
The addition of William Waiirua is a wild card, which may bring in a few fans, but a nervous start means he may take some time to convince more mainstream viewers. That having been said, there is a cheerful geniality, good humour and bonhomie exuding from the team that gels well right across the board that includes Europe correspondent Lisette Reymer and political editor Jenna Lynch. Once again, the latter is less abrasive than the departing Tova O’Brien and augers well for audience compatibility.
As ever, you can’t please everyone, and against the backdrop of largely positive feedback, one viewer, Pip, was critical of Ryan’s interruption of her beloved Prime Minister. Hopefully that will not stop Ryan, who has proved he can hold the PM to account without falling into the Hosking alienation trap.
Mel and Bernadine, along with Ryan, are already putting their own slant into the show, that on first viewing is vibrant, energetic, and inquisitive. It dots and crosses all the I’s and t’s, covering the issues of the day, with first day menu including the latest polls, the problems with the new finance law, Queen Camilla, and the Macron Putin meeting. The lighter side is handled by William and who doesn’t want to know how to build a vege garden in half an hour.
In summary, the new AM show ensures Kiwis are well-equipped to start their days with the core ingredients of a morning news show – news, weather, sport, interviews with newsmakers, opinions, and discussion. Along with an exciting new hosting line there will be new segments and features that will, no doubt, give AM its own unique vibe.
Advertisers and partner will have breathed a sigh of relief after the first morning confirmed this is a show that’s an engaging and compelling audience proposition.
The caveat to all this will be in the competitive space where there are questions yet to be answered. Will the AM show be able to persuade TV1 viewers to reach for their remote and switch channels? And will the busy simulcast, ex Radio Live and Magic listeners who miss Ryan’s dulcet tones, find a way to tune into the TV rather than switch on Tova or Mike? Perhaps the new working from home regimen that is replacing the drive to work will help.