The lovely Ann Sanders and Kylie Gillies were two of the more fetching guests of honour at a bash for Sunrise, The Morning Show and Weekend Sunrise last night in Sydney.
Seven staff and execs gathered with invited media to celebrate a dream run for the morning television shows, which Executive Producer Adam Boland noted was a national winner, for Sunrise, every week for five years.
Guests partied with finger food and free-flowing booze at Star City’s skyhigh Astral Bar as Sally Singleton sang her new single, “Tomorrow” to a partying throng.
Larry Emdur was MC for the formal part of the evening, blaming David Koch and Andrew O’Keefe for wimping the task in the presence of CEO David Leckie. But it wasn’t Emdur or the Sunrise team that had the room talking. That was left to Leckie, whose colorful speech raised more than a few eyebrows… at least to those who could follow it.
Leckie opened by talking about a bunch of staff he sacked after he first arrived in the job.
“The second day I arrived at Channel Seven, I went out to wonderful Epping. Sacked the General Manager and went into our Newsroom.”
He then spoke about sacking the Director of News.
“It was a horrible, horrible hole down there…. but you know what? There was something going on. There was something really going on.
“That was six years ago. Six years ago. You could just see it. You could just see some sort of spark going on.”
That spark, said Leckie, was Sunrise. But he said he and Peter Meakin had “nothing to do with” it’s success leading a turnaround for a network in the doldrums.
“The only thing we did was, we went to the board, or I actually did…with Peter’s endorsement…to get more money. I thought ‘I’m going to have a crack at this.’ And I must say Kerry Stokes and Ryan Stokes were way, way behind this. They were so into it. It was fantastic. We could have closed the doors, we could have walked out, it was that bad. But for one thing: it was called Sunrise.
“It was dramatically growing…I can’t read this (speech) by the way…” he mumbled.
Leckie forged on acknowledging the work of the Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise teams.
“When I was at Nine, Sunday was one of the most important programmes… it was really, really important to us. All of a sudden, overnight we’ve smashed it. It’s amazing what we’ve done. And don’t worry ‘Nat’… she’s going to give me a hard time. I watch you at 5:30 most nights… most mornings… I do. 5:30am I’m almost there.”
Amid some laughs around the room, Leckie continued to acknowledge the achievements of the three shows.
“Sunrise is number one, full stop. Full stop. Weekend Sunrise has smashed their opposition. Smashed their opposition. I mean you can’t believe how important Sunday was to Channel Nine. It was hugely important. We’ve smashed it. God….
“And The Morning Show -well it’s just a joke. We started from nowhere and just killed them. We’ve killed them. It’s really exciting you know. It’s really very, very important and I’m glad you’re all here. It’s just extraordinary what we’ve done. But not me. The people here,” he said.
“It’s all I’ve got to say I guess. Everyone deserves their succ…success. Because I think the success has been incredible. I’ve never seen a turn around like this in my life. Don’t think I ever will again. But well done.”
After several minutes of struggling with his speech, Leckie handed the reins back to Larry Emdur who introduced the man credited with Seven’s rise in morning television, Adam Boland. In a more articulate speech, he said Sunrise grew its audience by not following traditional TV rules.
“We set out to have some fun, but most of all to have a daily conversation with our audience,” he said.
Boland said since talking to the audience, the show has listened its audience reply.
“We get about 5000 emails a day, sometimes up to 8,000 emails depending on the topic. And I think the reasons viewers join in that conversation is because a) we inform them and b) we entertain them. And we take both of those missions very seriously.”
Boland cheekily said Today had “rebuilt some of its core audience of over 60′s…. and I mean no disrespect to them….but it was never an audience that we were actively pursuing. We were always aiming for the 25-54 demographic. That is our audience. We know our turf.”
He said the show was dominant in younger demographics.
“And we’ll never take that for granted, because you know what, if we do, frankly we deserve to lose.”