A toast to Sunrise

By David Knox on June 18, 2009 / Filed Under News 24

sunrise-121The 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.”

sunrise13After 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.”


  1. CraigM June 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm -

    I could look at Ann Sanders all day long with pleasure.

  2. Bazza June 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm -

    Sunrise started out quite well, many years ago, but I’m afraid they’ve strayed into the ever popular waters of self-righteousness that so many on air commentators do.

    For a long time even that was acceptable, given the light relief afforded by Berrets and Nat, but lately it’s become more than one can bear. David Kosh has never been a role model, glorifying the capitalist system as he does, but the last thing I need is his tut-tut’ing over important issues that he fails to fully grasp.

  3. Brodie June 18, 2009 at 6:02 pm -

    Is it a prerequisite for a network CEO to be a nob. Leckie sounds almost as pompous as Gyngell.

  4. Tepee June 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm -

    David Leckie’s ego is so huge it’s absurd. He wouldn’t know humility if it wacked him in the face. I like Sunrise, but Mr. Leckie is just so… *bleugh!*

  5. Steve June 18, 2009 at 4:48 pm -

    People forget how dominant the Today Show was when Sunrise first came on the scene. Just a massive accomplishment and now we see a remodeled Today show that has virtually copied everything Sunrise implemented – news ticker, traffic watch, even gayer Hollywood reporter, similar styles of segments, set design and even down to the coffee mugs. Leckie may be a p$ick but the station had balls at a time when Nine was conquering everything.

  6. ompman June 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm -

    all i can say thank abc for the 730 report and morning show

  7. Alex June 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm -

    Today won again in Sydney yesterday….

  8. JJR June 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm -

    I can just picture the cavalcade of stars at the amazing Star City – riding the escalator through the fake volcano – oh the glamour!

  9. Mike Retter June 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm -

    @Nathan – Go that extra bit further and see the light of ABC News Breakfast!

    Its sad when he brings up Sunday. I wonder if he ellaberated more on subject of Sunday. Sunday was such a great program.

  10. Bundynelle June 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm -

    All I have to say after reading this report I say Thank God I watch the Today Show.

  11. jb June 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm -

    Sounds like scene straight out of The Office. Comical, cringeworthy and self-absorbed

  12. Askme June 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm -

    To James Grant,

    If I was on television and earning a three figure salary, I’d be pretty peeved I was only getting a couple of thousand dollars.

    Particularly working for a show like Sunrise.

    Leckie’s Speechwriter

  13. damo June 18, 2009 at 11:22 am -

    this makes you want to throw up doesnt it. sunrise has gone south with david koch as a host. the reason why they are still in front. the today show has done nothing to beat it. they still have steven jacobs on the show and richard wilkins

  14. Charles June 18, 2009 at 11:21 am -

    Colourful has a “U” in it David!

  15. Rob June 18, 2009 at 11:19 am -

    New Idea TV, no it’s Today and SUnrise. How any of you think one show is fake and the other isn’t is laughable. Basically both are am versions of ACA and TT which are the new weekly magazines in electronic form. People don’t buy womens or mens magazines anymore because they can watch this crap instead for free. Fine, but everyday for 3 hours morning and night. Way too much junk.

  16. JB June 18, 2009 at 11:12 am -

    You may not be a ratings killer…but Thankyou ABC News Breakfast….You make me see the light…

  17. David June 18, 2009 at 10:19 am -

    Thank God for ABC News Breakfast so I don’t have to watch anymore self promoting rubbish on Sunrise or Today.

  18. Gil June 18, 2009 at 10:08 am -

    Sunrise was good post 9/11 but it went too far. Too sweet and fake. Just take a look at Nat – she knows its all artificial.

  19. ian holsely June 18, 2009 at 10:06 am -

    How sad that criticism must follow any good ratings story. Any five year spike deserves a party. And if the two shows are reaching different demo’s or make u kringe, then switch! End the whinging.

  20. Jerome June 18, 2009 at 10:05 am -

    just saw some of it on TMS, looked like a fun night, wish i was there.

    larry,kylie&ann are the best!

  21. mrb June 18, 2009 at 9:46 am -

    ABC2 news Breakfast, a much better watch

  22. Ryan June 18, 2009 at 9:43 am -

    I like Seven, but I hate Leckie, he is the most arrogant piece of old trash around, he is worse than Packer – he trumpets his own horn – doesn’t he know the meaning of the word humble – being so cocky is only going to hurt him when Seven’s dream run eventually comes to an end, much like Nine’s did. Leckie is a tool.

  23. Nathan June 18, 2009 at 9:08 am -

    Sunrise has got to be the most cringe-worthing TV i have ever watched. After recent weeks i’ve finally seen the light and switched to Today. I can’t stand Sunrise and it’s fake co-hosts and happy go lucky themes. It makes me sick and i’m 22 and so better off at Today, much more real perspective, with likeable talent and good stories. I will admit I still watch Weekend Sunrise, two words… Sam Armytage!

  24. james grant June 18, 2009 at 8:00 am -

    How wonderfully self indulgent – these stable of stars on there three and sometimes four figure salary packages drinking champagne and patting themselves on the back. Wouldn’t we all love our bosses doing that for us every time there was a ratings spike. Don’t get too comfortable – usually after one of these self indulgent romps, ratings slide and all those perky speeches quickly become a thing of the past. I guarantee if there’s a ratings slump or worse still an exodus from the so called ‘sunrise’ family it could be a case of Nat who, Fifi -where are you??? – that sniff of something in the wind that Leckie referred to could be a bit on the nose!!

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