Last of a dying breed

Every morning from 7-9, Fox-Philadelphia is "Living the Vida Local" with the up-and-coming news and entertainment program, "Good Day Philadelphia."

Courier Times
Good Day Philadelphia, hosted by Mike Jerrick and Donya Archer, airs weekdays from 7-9 AM on Fox-Philadelphia and is among the last of the locally produced morning shows in a major metropolitan TV market.
Forget Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. Ditch Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. And since "Survivor" ended there is no reason to watch Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson. Every morning from 7-9, Fox-Philadelphia is "Living the Vida Local" with the up-and-coming news and entertainment program, "Good Day Philadelphia," hosted by Mike Jerrick and Donya Archer.

So, what can one expect when watching "Good Day Philadelphia?" Plenty of laughs, thanks to the wise-guy antics of Jerrick, once of the Sci-Fi network, who became co-anchor in the fall of 1999. There are more jokes throughout the show between Jerrick, Archer, and weathercaster Sue Serio than most Fox sitcoms.

However, in Philadelphia's most recent ratings period of May 2000, "Good Day" was fourth in its timeslot with a 2.0 rating. ABC's "Good Morning America" was first with a 6.0, NBC's "The Today Show" was second with a 5.0, and "The Early Show" on CBS was third with a 2.3. Each ratings point averages around 26,000 homes.

But as the last locally based wakeup show in the Philly market, the program is showing signs of improvement.

John Mussoni, Fox-Philadelphia news director, is not concerned. "We don't want to compete with NBC, CBS, and ABC. We are looking to create a new audience, one that didn't watch morning programs in the past. We know that Philadelphia is entrenched in its viewing habits. We just want to be part of people's (channel) surfing patterns, which we think is happening."

The show features weather and traffic every 15 minutes, live features from Philadelphia news veteran, Janet Zappala, movie reviews from Bill Wine, Hollywood updates based from Los Angeles by Drexel Hill's Molly Mayock, and in-studio guests - including plenty supplied from the Fox network.

Even if there weren't any guests, Jerrick, Archer and Serio could do fine on their own. "We actually enjoy each other's company off-camera, there's a real camaraderie here " laughed Archer who began her tenure at Fox as the news anchor for the show. Serio, formerly of WHYY TV-12 and several area radio stations, added, "we talk to each other on the air the same way we talk off the air."

For the on-air talent, the day is much longer than 7-9. Serio, of Media, awakens at 3 a.m. and is in the studio by 4 a.m. for weather graphics. Serio, who resembles Emme, the plus-sized host of E!'s "Fashion Emergency," jokes that she sees her husband, Fox-Philadelphia weekend sportscaster Bill Vargus, in passing sometimes. Jerrick and Archer, who are both single and live in Center City, agree that the early morning hours can be difficult, but it's a sacrifice they are happy to make. After the show ends at 9 a.m., it's on to production meetings to determine the next day's content.

Mussoni added, "We wanted to do a morning show because we knew mornings were growing. Noon has been done. It took the "Ten O'Clock News" around five years to find its niche, and we feel 'Good Day' is on the same path. "

One recent morning, "Good Day" was live in Havertown with coverage of a plane crash and Serio did her weather report from Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby. National happenings weren't ignored, as the show featured a live report from Nashville about the "Country Music Association Awards" and an interview about cancer with former NFL star Chris Spielman from Cleveland.

However, something that practically was ignored was sports, as "Good Day" does not utilize a regular sportscaster. Results from the previous evening are glossed over with a voice-over. When asked why, Mussoni stated, "We could have had one of our sportscasters tape a report from the night before, but we felt that didn't do anything. We feel that most people have their sports news from the previous evening's newscast."

Around 50 people are involved with the weekday broadcast. "The crew knows that they are on to something good and they take an ownership in the show," said Mussoni.

Serio added, "Everybody always asks 'Are you having that much fun?' The answer is 'yes we are having that much fun.' "


Thursday, October 19, 2000