Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg's morning TV hosts are bright-eyed at 6 a.m. so you don't have to be

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Wakey, wakey.

Jeremy John's parents are amazed at the person their son has become.

"Not necessarily in the professional sense, but because I used to be pretty good at sleeping in," says John, who recently celebrated his 18-month anniversary as host of Citytv's Breakfast Television, a role that requires him to rise and shine at 2 a.m., Monday to Friday.

John grew up in Ontario. One time he got in hot water for missing a family get-together at a Toronto Blue Jays game. Everybody was supposed to meet at Skydome at 1 p.m. but John was a no-show.

"They called me when the game was over to see if I was OK. OK? I was still in bed."

Kris Laudien drew inspiration from a 20-year-old issue of National Geographic last September, after he became the co-host of CTV Morning Live, which, like Breakfast Television, airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., five days a week.

"In the beginning I had some anxiety about getting up so early," says Laudien, who sets his alarm for 3 a.m. "Then I remembered an article I read a long time ago about a tribe in Africa that only slept four hours a night. I figured if they could do it, so could I."

"There's a big difference," interjects Laudien's on-air partner, Eleanor Coopsammy, who is up and at 'em by 2:45 a.m. so she can be at her desk, poring over the day's headlines, by 4 a.m. "They probably had to get up because of something called an African lion."

Newshounds have never had it so good; when Global Winnipeg launched Morning News earlier this year, it became the third locally produced program to offer viewers an early dose of headlines, weather information and traffic updates.

Given that this Thursday is the longest day of the year, we recently sat down with six of Winnipeg's a.m. television personalities -- Citytv's John and Courtney Ketchen, CTV's Laudien and Coopsammy and Global's Eva Kovacs and Derek Taylor -- to discuss everything from how difficult is it to hit the hay when the sun is still high in the sky to what each takes in his or her coffee.

For obvious reasons, we're probably going to call this story The Breakfast Club, after the John Hughes film of the same name. I presume you've all seen that movie?

Courtney: I saw it once years ago, but I forget what it was about. Weren't they all in detention or something?

Kris: I remember the first time I saw it; it was Grade 7 creative writing class. It was right before summer holidays. Our teacher brought it to school and let us watch it.

Eleanor: Isn't The Breakfast Club a little risqué for Grade 7? I liked Bender (Judd Nelson); he was my favourite character, for sure. And I liked the Ally Sheedy character, too, but only after they cleaned her up.

Jeremy: I wanted to be Bender but my dad wanted me to be the jock (Emilio Estevez). And every girl in my high school wanted to be Molly Ringwald. Alas, none of us succeeded.

Derek: I've never seen that movie in my life; not even one minute.

Eva: Never?

Derek: I'm a dude so I watched other movies instead of The Breakfast Club. I imagine it as not being for "men."

Eva: Oh, no. It wasn't like that at all.

Kris: Bender was definitely my favourite character, but if you were to ask me who I was most like, it would be a mix between Emilio's part and the nerdy guy, Anthony Michael Hall.

Eleanor: I'm leaning more towards the nerdy guy.

Derek: Anthony Michael Hall was in it? Now I'm really glad I didn't see it.

 

We already know what time Jeremy, Kris and Eleanor wake up; how about the rest of you; is everybody close to that?

Derek: My alarm goes off at 2:30. A couple of slaps in the face and I'm good to go.

Eva: When we first started my alarm went off at 1:45. Now I have a second alarm that goes off at two. When I hear myself say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous. But truly, I don't even think about it anymore.

Courtney: My alarm goes off at exactly 2:17 only because 2:15 sounds crazy and 2:20 is too late. I need those extra three minutes to eat my Shreddies.

 

OK -- so we get the "early to rise" part of your job. But does the rest of that maxim hold true? Is it "early to bed" for each one of you, too?

Jeremy: My kids are eight, four and two and they go to bed at seven. I'm right behind them, at eight o'clock.

Eva: Our kids are seven and five and they generally go to bed the same time I do -- around eight or 8:30. But if they're not co-operating, my husband will put them to bed. I can't stay up any later than that or the next day's going to be a disaster.

Derek: I always say I'll get to bed by seven. But then there's a hockey game on and it becomes 8:30. Then the Lakers game is about to start so now it's 10 p.m. Or if The Wire is showing on "On Demand," it might be as late as midnight.

Eleanor: I try to get to bed by eight; I'm sure it would be a lot easier to fall asleep if I had drapes on my windows, but we recently moved and we don't have anything up yet.

Kris: I usually try to be in bed between 8:30 and 9, but now that it stays light out so late, I have the same problem as when I was eight years old -- I don't want to go to bed before it's dark.

Courtney: I live a sad life; I go to bed earlier than everyone else -- between six and seven. I live right by a soccer field and I'm like an old lady, yelling out the window, "Shut up! It's seven o'clock and I'm trying to sleep."

 

How about any significant others -- what type of adjustments have they had to make, based on your early bird schedule?

Courtney: I live with my two bichons; there are some nights when they'll sit on the bed, staring at me, wondering why they have to go to bed so early when they can hear all the other dogs outside, barking and playing.

Derek: It used to be the opposite at my house; I worked the late shift and my wife worked mornings. She probably thinks this is the greatest thing ever; now she gets to have the house and dog to herself, and she can watch whatever she wants on TV.

Eva: My husband does laundry, he packs the next day's lunches for the kids, he downloads music on iTunes... he has a long night on his own after I go to bed.

Eleanor: I try to stay up with my husband on Friday nights, but 9 p.m. is always the witching hour for me. We went to Vegas for the first time last fall and on our first night there, I was in bed at 10 o'clock their time. My husband was like, "Nice."

Jeremy: After I go to bed my wife has the run of the house and a whole new world begins. One time she found something on Kijiji at 8:30 and had it delivered at 9:30. I woke up the next morning and said, "Where did that armoire come from?"

 

Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that coffee is as important part of your day as directors and camera operators?

Eva: I pick up coffee at McDonald's on the way to work. When I first started, I had a couple of coffees that were really disgusting. So one morning I said, "I'm going to be here every day around this time. Could you maybe put a fresh pot on?" And they totally did.

Eleanor: I have one large double-double before the show and another one right after. But as soon as it's noon, I'm not drinking any coffee for the rest of the day.

Jeremy: Coffee should be a tax writeoff for me; I have a large, one milk, two sweeteners, before the show. Then I have about five mugs, black, during the show. And another two after we're all done. I could drink coffee right up until the moment I fall asleep, no problem.

Derek: Coffee to me tastes like boiled feet; I will not touch it. I drink Diet Pepsi instead.

Kris: I don't drink coffee either -- just water. I have maybe two cups of coffee a year, both when I go to my grandmother's. She always insists on serving me coffee and cake.

 

There must be some perks associated with a 2 a.m. wakeup call. You probably never get angst-ridden about rush-hour traffic, for example.

Courtney: I'm out of here at 11:30 so it's nice to have all afternoon to run my errands. I find myself doing things that maybe I wouldn't have had time for before. I go to my grandma's a lot more, which is something I wouldn't necessarily do in the evening.

Derek: Not driving in rush hour is by far the best part. I used to work an 8:30 shift and it was the worst thing ever; I'd be sitting in my car for 30 minutes, wondering why I could not get across the Midtown Bridge.

Kris: Shopping when everybody else is at work is great. I'm not huge on crowds, and there are very few people in the stores in the middle of the afternoon.

Jeremy: I would never complain about my job because there are so many benefits. And I'm not talking about things like meeting tons of interesting people. One, I'm always available to pick up my kids from school -- we never have to worry about a babysitter. And two, I always tell my wife -- who I unfortunately don't see that much of now -- that we'll have soooo much to talk about when I retire.

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2012 E1

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