Morning Sunshine!

How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too


By Robin Meade

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Robin Meade is the poster child for confidence and self-assurance. But the anchor of Morning Express with Robin Meade wasn’t always that way. In fact, there was a period in her career when she was plagued with anxiety and panic attacks. In MORNING SUNSHINE, she tells how she overcame her fear of public speaking to go on and achieve her dream of becoming a news anchor.

Robin Meade offers her own tried-and-true four-step approach to building confidence. Her trademark warm, personal style translates from the screen to the page in this book, which will give readers even more insight into the young woman who came out of nowhere to become one of the most popular news anchors on television today.


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Table of Contents

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Copyright Page


My Morning Sunshine

"How do you do it?"

The soccer mom–looking lady was leaning in sideways to peer into my face as I tried to print out pictures at the Kodak kiosk at the pharmacy.

"How do you stay so upbeat, even though you have to get up so early and talk about depressing stories?"

She tried to maintain eye contact, but I could see her eyes darting from my face (still caked with TV makeup) to my purse (large enough for a small child to hide in) to my pictures (oh, geez, what was I printing?) to my shoes (flip-flops from the craft store's summer aisle)—as if she were taking inventory.

Aha! What we had here was an avid viewer of the morning TV show I anchor four hours a day, Morning Express with Robin Meade, on HLN (or, as you used to know it, Headline News). And she had caught me right then and there, bathed in the unflattering lights of the corner drugstore.

"Well, it's not always easy," I replied, wanting her to know I wasn't immune to stories like the one stuck in my brain that day of a toddler whose mother had allegedly neglected for a month to even tell anyone she was missing. I hurried on, "But we have a good team around us who makes work not seem like work."

It's my fallback answer to common questions from viewers, such as: "What time do you get up?" "Is it hard to do breaking news?" Then there's the real zinger: "Is that your real laugh?" (Think more guffaw than giggle.)

But what I get the most is, "I love it when you say, 'Morning, sunshine!' Who is 'Morning Sunshine?' " (Even country music king Kenny Chesney recently halted my interview with him to ask me that question.)

If you watch my show, you know I greet you nearly every half hour of the show with a rousing "Morning, sunshine!" Sometimes news junkies think it's directed toward a particular viewer with whom they assume I have some special relationship. You know, the Carol Burnett I'll-pull-on-my-ear-for-you thing.

"Is 'Morning Sunshine' what you call your husband?" an older gentleman once asked with an inquisitive expression on his face. "My wife and I think you must call each other that." I theorized he and his sweetie had similar pet names for each other.

The truth of the matter is that "Morning, sunshine!" is something my preacher father would belt out in the mornings of my childhood, trying to root his three-kid brood out of bed in an uplifting way. It was positive, but to the point. Mind you, if that didn't do the trick, he'd rip off the covers. If you got a couple of seconds of the brisk air that still lingered in our Ohio home on winter mornings, you'd jump out of bed, too. It was a father's gentle way of saying, "Move, before I put a steel-toed boot in your butt!" He didn't have the luxury of letting his children make him late for his factory job.

Likewise, I say "Morning, sunshine!" to my viewers because:

  1. It comes naturally after hearing it all my life.
  2. It conveys enthusiasm about the start of your day—our day together—while being just aggravating enough to keep you from burying your bedhead back in the pillow.
  3. People seem to sit up and take notice. Regular viewers request, "Say hello to me on the air!" So instead of risking sounding like Miss Sally in Romper Room, I tell them, "I'll say, 'Morning, sunshine!' at such and such time just for you!" It's a small way to make that personal connection we all crave. (And besides, I do have them in mind when I say it!)
  4. It's become a way of thinking for me.

Let me explain.


If you move beyond "Morning, sunshine!" as a salutation, you can start to understand how to also look at it as a concept—a way of life.

Every single one of us has to find those tenets, beliefs, and mind-sets that sustain us and move us through not only our day, but our lives when the crud hits the fan.

For me, my morning sunshine is made up of many components, including:

My Husband's Humor

Tim does a great imitation of our fifteen-year-old cat, Ike, coughing up a hairball. He also makes fun of the Carmex I habitually keep on the nightstand in case the night air dries out my smackers. ("Mmm-mmm," he'll say, exaggerating his imitation by overdrawing his lips with an imaginary tube of Carmex.) And the dude will wager outlandish jewelry if I'll agree to do some outrageous act.

For example, "I'll buy you a GINORMOUS diamond ring if you jump into that birdcage and scream 'POLLY WANT A CRACKER!' for two minutes straight!" He actually made this generous offer at the World's Longest Yard Sale.

Honey, I sat eyeing the person-sized birdcage for a good twenty minutes, pondering how bad my jail stay would be. Because I knew they'd come arrest me and charge me with displaying a heapin' helpin' of cuckoo.

A Balanced Upbringing

You want to talk about frick and frack: my father wouldn't allow us to utter the word darn growing up, because it's a slip of the tongue away from damn. Yet my energetic and comical mother regularly made up her own curse words. I'd siphon worldly wisdom from her ("Learn to deal with people who act like asses, because there will always be an ass"), while my father spoon-fed us religion ("You will go to church three times a week") that provided a strong spiritual foundation.

Love of Family

Hubby Tim and I have yet to make a decision about having kids. We're neither for nor against it, we joke. But in the back of my mind I think, Hell! (Sorry, Dad, for cursing!) I can't even make my dog, Rocco, behave! How can I be someone's mom? However, the love I feel for my sister, brother, father, and mother (and don't forget the in-laws) extends to my nieces and nephews as if they were our own. If you were to come to our weekend cottage at the lake you'd see photos of Tim and me surrounded by them. One of my favorites shows the nieces and nephews nearly climbing all over Tim. He's grinning from ear to ear.

The Big G

Probably the biggest component of my morning sunshine is gratitude—gratitude for the things I can't control, like where I was born, to whom I was born, and my childhood. I'm grateful to God for the people I've met, and the places I've called home, if only for a short time (New London, Ohio; Mansfield, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; and now Atlanta, Georgia).

I've learned to say thanks for things I now recognize as talents but used to take for granted, like my speaking voice and my singing voice. Heck, I'm feeling gratitude for the blue sky under which I'm writing today.

My closest friend, Julie, whom I've known since high school, admittedly doesn't share the same feeling. She describes herself as having a "glass half-empty" look on life. I wish she could view herself as I view her. She's got this honesty that's abrupt, but refreshing. For example: "Robin! What's that fake broadcaster's voice you're using?" she blurted out when I was a cub reporter/anchor and didn't get that you should just "talk" on the air, not "announce." Julie is a talented businesswoman and embroidery designer with creativity out the wazoo. She's a loving mother. And very few people can recall details like she can. She's got the memory of an elephant.

I think she rocks!

She, however, somehow thinks she's less than fabulous, because she came back home to live and work after chasing her dreams in New York City. Wrong! She has so much to offer, so much for which to be thankful, and so much about which to be confident.

We all have!

Right now, at the drop of a hat… can you rattle off things you're grateful for today?

You can probably easily list the big things—your family, your job, your snazzy car—whatever seems big to you at the moment. But in my opinion you'll feel even more gratitude if you think about the things you normally look past on your gratitude roster.

For example, many days I'm grateful just for the energy to talk on air for four hours straight. Come to think of it, I don't know of anyone else on TV who anchors a show that long! So in turn, at this moment I'm grateful for my stamina and lung capacity. Not bad for a preemie who was repeatedly hospitalized with pneumonia until she was five years old.

I'm also grateful for my eyes, which allow me to see the camera and relay the news to you. For the Lasik surgery that allowed me to chuck my contacts. For the privacy and serenity I feel when I get back home. For the way the pillow feels cool on my face at night. For the air-conditioning in the sweltering Georgia heat. For the way the color red makes me feel. For the daily phone call I get from my parents ("Hi, honey, it's Mom. Your father says your hair is too long, and he wants to know if you went to church this week").

You see, it doesn't have to be big and grand, or miraculous and mysterious. We all have things for which to be grateful, for which to say, "That is my morning sunshine today!"

Even if it's just that you woke up today, be grateful for a brand-new day, perhaps even a brand-new start! Can you look past the negatives in your life and be grateful?


Speaking of being grateful, I'm eternally grateful for the confidence I feel at this point in my life.

Con-fi-dence. So elusive, so abstract, so heavy a concept it takes a chestful of air and three syllables to say.

I haven't always been as internally confident as I appeared to everyone else. So how did I make the inside match the veneer of the happy-go-lucky go-getter?

To find and maintain our own personal confidence, I think we should:

  • Stop being delusional! (That's right, if you're lacking in self-confidence you believe some things about yourself that are simply not true.)
  • Be grateful for things that suck. (I know, that just sounds whacked.)
  • Acknowledge your inner bitch or bitcho. (Yes, fellas, you, too!)
  • Find real balance in the teeter-totter of your life. (What, you mean sixteen-hour days won't make us happy?)
  • Recognize where your void becomes your value. Think of the stuttering child who goes on to be a world-famous actor. The woman who attains riches after struggling for even the basic necessities in earlier years.
  • Don't put other people's opinions on a pedestal above your own. I think of the old line, "Enough about me. What do YOU like best about me?"

Isn't that a nice, neat little package of advice? Trust me, friend, it's taken a lifetime of desperately chasing people's affection (I read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People in the eighth grade, mind you) to help me arrive at a place where I can stand confident on my own, regardless of my job, regardless of whatever my weight is that month, regardless of recognition (or lack thereof ), regardless of the tangibles I have around me.

Hey, don't get me wrong! I love Louis Vuitton as much as the next label-informed woman! But I've got a silver-and-gold no-name purse I like just as much. It's as if I'm humming along at a whole different level at this point in my life, compared to, say, ten years ago.

Now, before you cue the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show ("Who can turn the world on with her smile?"), I should tell you there was a dark time in my career where my confidence had wilted to zilch. I didn't know how I got there, but I knew I needed to think my way out of the darkness. My livelihood depended on it. My life depended on it. Problem is, I had no idea how to hit the reset button.

Come closer. What I'm about to tell you, not even the head honchos at HLN and CNN knew until now.

Why would I divulge this information? Because I hope it will provide you with a road map of how one person redeveloped her self-confidence, got comfortable in her own skin… and kicked doubt's butt! And it may be a shortcut for you, if you find the little doubt devil lingering on your shoulder.

Forge on, friend! Turn the page. The story is waiting for you. And so, hopefully, is your discovery of your own morning sunshine!

Disclaimer: In this book, I'm sharing my experience with you. Obviously not every method will work for every person. But I hope even some of the truths I've learned will also help you!



Where Did My Confidence Go?

"Thirty seconds to showtime," the floor director barked in a tone of voice that said, "Let's get this show in the bag so I can go hang on State and Division streets." I had just slid into my chair at the anchor desk for the 10 p.m. newscast in Chicago, cutting it close as usual. I squinted, trying to adjust to the bright studio lights. My eyes were dry from the long day that had started at 4 a.m., and my contacts were tugging against the insides of my eyelids.

The smell of microwave popcorn regularly wafted through the air at this time of night, as I plugged in my earpiece and threaded the microphone through my suit jacket with one swift motion. The popcorn aroma would make my mouth water. Yummy! My mind floated to Saturday nights as a kid when my parents would pop gargantuan bowlfuls of the stuff and we'd settle in for a night of The Muppet Show, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. Now that's a weekend! (Friday nights were different. We were at the viewing mercy of my mother, who loved Dallas. If my father saw us kids gawking at the adulterous ways of J. R. Ewing, he would chastise Mom: "Don't be letting those kids watch that smut!")

If you've ever worked weekends, no matter what field you're in, you know the schedule has its ups and downs. On the upside, you get your errands done during the week when the stores aren't as crowded. On the downside—well, you're working the weekends!

The weekend shift was trying for most people in the newsroom, too. Most of us were happy to be staffing the widely watched shows. But the other side of the coin was that it usually felt as if we were working the grind, while the rest of the population was off soaking up what the city had to offer.

You could imagine the city's scenes: husbands and wives out on a date night, scarfing down Italian dishes on Taylor Street. Young singles, dressed in layers of Lycra, jogging along Oak Street Beach against the cutting wind from Lake Michigan. Packs of friends clustered in the United Center watching a Bulls game… in the lead-up to one of the team's many championships at that time. The theater district was humming with shows this time of night. Do-it-yourselfers were knee-deep in their weekend house projects.

… And I was nearly halfway through my grueling weekend shift. Frankly, I was looking forward to my head hitting the pillow that night.


"Breaking story!" chirped a youngish crew member, jolting my mind back to the present. She breezed by with the scripts of the story that would lead the newscast. It was so late-breaking that the paper it was on was warm from the printer. Yes, ladies and gents: it was hot off the presses!

I silently fumed. Why didn't someone come back to the edit bays where I was before the show and tell me we had a breaking story?

Usually I could tell we had incoming stories by the crackling activity on the police scanners. My lowly cubicle was near the assignment desk. It was a drag to sit so close to the traffic of the newsroom when you were trying to block out the drone of inane banter or chattering police scanners. But the upside was that when there were breaking stories, I was this close, so I could listen in and soak up the information as a story developed.

Most of the time someone would find you, give you a heads-up that a story was developing, and get your input on how you thought it should be covered or whether it was worthy of being the top story on that newscast. You get the idea. But for some reason that hadn't happened this night. And this story I was about to deliver was news to me, too. Oh well, maybe they got too busy.

So there I sat. I was feeling guilty I hadn't shown up earlier on the set or been a part of the discussions about this story.

"Fifteen seconds," announced the floor director.

All right, let's see what we're dealing with.

I glanced through the script. First rule of thumb for presenting something on air you haven't previously seen or researched: make sure there are no "gotcha" names, pronunciations, or phrases that will trip your tongue before you even get started. (For example, you try saying "Russian president Demitri Medvedev" for the first time on air without a heads-up!)

On this Saturday night, instead of the facts of the story or the names of the victims, what I noticed ten seconds before the 10 p.m. newscast was the length of that story: Wowza! That's a long-ass read!


"Five seconds."

That news story was so long and layered that a Ginsu knife couldn't have chopped through it. With four seconds to go, I had a pessimistic thought: It's too late for you to tighten this up, Robin. And you have no time to rewrite it in your own voice. Wouldn't it suck if you ran out of breath and couldn't make it to the sound bite?

What kind of thought is that?

That's a worrywart thought. That's what that is.

Talking for four hours straight is no big deal to me today. I have to talk so much every morning I sometimes even get tired of hearing my own voice. (Kidding.) Actually, the show is so long I get an entire day's worth of talking in by the time it ends. I don't say a whole lot the rest of the day. Friends might think I'm not much of a Chatty Cathy because I don't yammer on and on about my feelings when they call. Truth is, I'm talked out! My personal phone calls resemble most people's business calls (just the facts, ma'am) because on the show, I talk and talk and talk.

But that weekend… so many years ago… something was different.

With my body.

With my brain.

With me.

Hubby Tim had noticed it earlier that day.

I was sprawled out on the couch at home, wrapped in a robe while on a break between two of the eight shows I anchored every weekend. (What a crazy schedule. It looked good on paper. And I loved it when I was off four days a week to make up for the marathon work schedule. But during the weekend, wow, that was a stinker!) Instead of taking the nap I needed, I was going over transcripts for a special report I was working on for the big "sweeps" month coming up, when the ratings would be measured.

I was assigned to find out which skin lotion worked the best at protecting the ol' epidermis in the Chicago winter. (I swear I didn't make this up.) It took me weeks to find a lab (in Montana of all places) that tested such products and could give me a quantifiable outcome.

Funny how, the entire time I was doing that story, people we tried to interview mostly wanted to share their "tried-and-true" home remedies to guard against dry cracked skin: "Crisco on the elbows might do it," a dermatologist told me. "My granny swears olive oil does wonders," one woman claimed. But would I smell like pasta? Did it not have an aroma?

Meanwhile, my husband was noticing my sluggish state there on the sofa: "Why are you sighing so much and breathing so heavily? You're just sitting on the couch!"

"I dunno. I'm just tired," I replied.

"No, there's something else. You're not tired, you're exhausted! You need to call in and have someone else do the show."

"I can't just call in!" I shot back. "There's no way they'll be able to find someone on a Saturday afternoon to fill in for me!" Wouldn't one of my coworkers curse me under her breath if she had to interrupt her weekend plans because I called in sick?

As I said, I was a worrywart and regularly fretted over what other people thought of me. Never mind that back when I was on the Monday-through-Friday shift, there were plenty of random weekends where I'd be knuckle-deep into a pint of Ben and Jerry's, get the call, and haul off to work to fill in for whoever was off the weekend anchor schedule.

"Just tell them you're not feeling well," Tim implored.

"No, I can't!" I whined. Tim knew I didn't fib well. So why didn't I just tell the truth? Well, let's think about it. How do you call in "exhausted"?

Such an excuse was run-of-the-mill in Hollywood. You hear of starlets getting hospitalized for exhaustion. But in a real-life setting that excuse was flimsy at best. Being "exhausted" was simply not acceptable. Not in my family. Not in the newsroom. Not in my mind. I would worry endlessly what my bosses thought of me if I called in saying I was too tired to work.

What if you get nervous and can't make it to the sound bite? The thought was still lurking in my head. Suddenly, it was as if it had invaded my body, too. As the familiar introduction music played, I may as well have been hearing the music to a horror flick, something like the DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH from Jaws. My brain raced away with this new idea that I wouldn't be able to make it through the lead story, let alone the entire newscast.

See how my bad thought just kept growing and growing?


That night I looked down at the copy of the news story. My stomach clenched. My heart started palpitating. I think I held my breath without realizing it.

The floor director gave me the cue, pointing at me as the camera came up on my face.

I felt sweaty. Just as I opened my mouth to speak, the set seemed to fade into a gauzy haze. My breathing was jagged. The words came, but my voice was quivering so much it sounded like a kid singing into a big box fan on a humid summer day: "Bray-ay-ay-ay-king new-ew-ew-ews tonigh-igh-ight."

My hands shook uncontrollably, and I was huffing and puffing as if I were running mile twenty-five of the Chicago Marathon. These were not the controlled, measured tones of someone who had been doing this for a living for years. My heart pounded in my ears, and my face flushed. I was losing it, right there with who knows how many thousands of people watching.

What the hell is happening? As I delivered the facts of the story, I didn't hear a thing that came out of my mouth. All I heard were my own thoughts.

Oh, no, you're screwing up!

Oh, no, your bosses are probably watching!

You're going to get fired!

How will you pay your mortgage?

What will people think of you?

And then, of course, Holy crapola, where is that sound bite?

Can you see how the cause-and-effect relationship of my thoughts just engulfed me in doom and gloom? I couldn't keep my mind on the story. I totally slipped into imagining the future and the horrible repercussions of my screwup.

Because I'm writing this today, you can tell that somehow I lived to see the sound bite that evening. The whole looking-like-I-was-hopped-up-on-six-energy-drinks episode lasted only seconds. But it seemed like an eternity.

Now Josh, the I'm-going-to-be-a-reporter-someday crew member, and Michael, the I-really-want-to-be-a-rock-star prompter operator, were around me, wearing the same expression you'd have after witnessing a car wreck. "Robin, are you okay? Do you need a glass of water?" Josh's eyes were wide open, as if he really wanted to shout, "Dude!" He didn't know what to make of this.

"Yeah, please," I croaked. My mouth was cotton. I wished I had a trough to douse my head in instead of a tiny Dixie cup of water.

"Everything okay out there?" the producer chimed in on my IFB, the earpiece through which the producer and director talk to anchors during the show without the folks at home hearing it.

What to say, what to say? "Oh, sorry about that. Wow, that was weird! I lost my breath or something." I faked a half-laugh at the end of that statement for their benefit.


On Sale
Sep 10, 2009
Page Count
256 pages
Center Street

Robin Meade

About the Author

Millions of viewers each week tune into HLN morning show star Robin Meade and her show, Morning Express with Robin Meade, which airs weekdays from 6 am to 10 am. Her extraordinary, fun personality has attracted an enthusiastic following, including Stephen King, who devoted an entire Entertainment Weekly column to her.

Learn more about this author