Longtime journalist Robin Roberts has been at the anchor desk of ABC’s Good Morning America for over a decade, but she still considers the daily wake-up call to viewers a honor.
“It’s a privilege. We say, ‘Good morning, America.’ We wake up America,” Roberts shares in the video above. “I remember the first time I said it and I was like … ‘Can I say it? Can I say it?’ I get chills right now!”
EW recently sat down with Roberts and the rest of the anchor team George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer, Amy Robach, and Ginger Zee as the five recalled some of their favorite moments from the daily broadcast and laughed about their first days on the job. Here are some highlights from the interview.
On getting the call
“I was at Eyewitness News and I remember getting off the air when the 5 o’clock news ended,” Spencer says. “This is 1999 and I’m checking my voicemails and there was that beautiful breathy voice of Diane Sawyer saying, ‘It’s Diane. Would you like to come do pieces for us?’ ” Adds Robach, “Diane called me too and I thought it was my friend was pranking me! Then I was like, ‘Oh this is actually Diane, I’m sorry.’ ”
That first day
“I did my first story and I was so nervous,” Robach shares. “I had been doing this for 20 years how am I so nervous right now, but my hands were shaking I hope no one saw. I got through the first one and it was like riding a bike.” Adds Zee, “I remember thinking this was more than I had done in the past. All of a sudden I’m sharing that I was doing squats while brushing my teeth!”
Stories they’re most proud of
Says Roberts, “For me it was sharing my passion for aviation because my father was a Tuskeegee airman. And to do the show from the field where those famed airmen went off to war … I had my dad’s flight suit on and it was about family and history and that’s what I love about out program. Yeah, we have fun … but we allow you to learn a little something.”
“Anytime I can do a story on someone who inspires me I feel so lucky,” Robach says. “Going to Nigeria and meeting with Malala [Yousafza] iand watching her be her and this incredible inspiration at just 17 and it was her birthday and she was there to bring back the girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram. This young woman was changing the world with her voice.”
Adds Zee, “Networks for so long did a lot of damage chasing after a big tornado or a hurricane. When I came here I said we have to go ahead of storms and warn that this is the area that’s going to get hit tomorrow. So as far as what I’m most proud of it’s doing that. “
On the legacy they hope to leave during the next 40 years
Roberts says, “I’m going to take the title of Amy’s book, Better. That is my hope. That people looking back [think] that we made their lives better, that we made them think the world was a better place and that it was entertaining and enlightening but foremost to have people leave their homes, get off the treadmill or put down the tablet, whatever means they watch us, and just feel better about themselves and that it’s going to be a better day. That’s all you can really ask. “
Good Morning America will celebrate their 40th anniversary on Tuesday. In further celebration of the network milestone, ABC will air a 40-hour marathon beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. ET; aptly titled “40 for 40,” the special will be streamed live at ABCnews.com/live and GoodMorningAmerica.com on Yahoo!.