Michael Strahan is departing his co-hosting gig at Live! with Kelly and Michael to join Good Morning America. He’s appeared on GMA twice a week for the last two years and while the new opportunity is worth celebration, it’s also the end of an era of quiet but radical racial representation.
“Michael has... proven to be a tireless and versatile broadcaster with an incredible ability to connect with people, from veterans to American pop culture icons and newsmakers,” said James Goldston, president of ABC News, in a memo to staff sent this morning. “He will end a four year run as Kelly Ripa’s co-host on ‘Live!,’ where he has honed his skills as an interviewer with genuine warmth and a quick wit. At ‘GMA,’ he’ll now have even more opportunities to tell stories that inspire, inform and empower people.”
The stats, via Variety, say GMA needs Strahan in the never-ending morning show wars between GMA and Today. GMA took the lead from Today in 2012 but recently lost their footing with viewers.
For the week ending April 8, “Good Morning America” saw its overall viewership fall by 7%, while the 25-to-54 audience fell 19%. At NBC, overall viewership for “Today” slipped 2% in the same time period.
Coming off the leading daytime talk show for women between 25-54 and the number two syndicated talk show, behind Dr. Phil (really, America?), Strahan might bring with him a major audience.
When Strahan first joined Kelly and Michael, it remained to be seen whether he could hack it every single day as a live morning show host. He was a sports guy and his new job would be about fluff and creating pandering-but-entertaining interviews (for the most part) with silly celebrities. Growing up, I watched Live! with Kelly and Regis with my grandmother and continued watching the next iteration to feel close to her. She died in 2009 and in hindsight I wish she could’ve seen Strahan as a co-host because the daily depiction of a giant, muscular black man who was not tap dancing or presented as a threat was amazing and ground-breaking to watch. Strahan was on television every day in front of an audience of mostly white women while towering over the tiny Kelly Ripa and it was normal. Five days a week he disproved the stereotype that black men should be feared and I loved it.
Of course, he’ll still be a big, muscular black man on morning television (which is great) but I’ll miss him on Kelly and Michael. Not to mention, who will replace him?
Image via Getty.