3:16 pm Sep. 4, 20122
After Michael Strahan made his big debut Tuesday as the new Regis Philbin to "Live!'s" Kelly Ripa, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, who'd been eyeing the coveted morning-show slot since early this year, got a little teary-eyed on his blog, lamenting that "the 'Live!' job had some shiny-new-car appeal and I’m sorry it’s Strahan driving instead of me."
But that doesn't mean Kiernan's sitting around waiting for the next marquee anchor gig to come along.
"There's no grand plan to find the Plan B national show or anything like that," he told Capital this morning on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. "I'm happy to be back at work tomorrow."
A permanent slot on "Live!," which Kiernan guest co-hosted several times this spring, would have created a vastly expanded platform for a newsman whose relatively low national profile belies the almost cult-like fan-base he's developed in the five boroughs. But it also would have meant moving beyond the same viewers who have made Kiernan into something of a local hero during his 15 years at NY1, the 24-hour cable news channel available to Time Warner subscribers in and around New York City.
"One of the things I recognized through that process [of trying out for 'Live!'] is that New Yorkers have a very close connection to me," he said. "I really felt that through all the media coverage and blog comments and everything that I became a favorite of New Yorkers. Who would they like to see in that job taking over for Regis. And you realize that's not a connection you can make easily, and it's not a connection you can take for granted. Moving to another job doesn't mean all those people follow you."
But surely there must be some gig plum enough to extricate Kiernan from the local news landscape?
"The current focus of my obsession is that when Alex Trebek decides its time to retire, I would love to do 'Jeopardy,'" he said, laughing. "It's gonna seem like I'm just following aging broadcasters, but I mean honestly, it's sort of that level of job that would even interest me in leaving the one that I have. I don't necessarily wanna go find some start-up show just out of some thirst to have a national audience. But if one of these iconic national jobs came my way, it would be fun to have a different challenge."
Kiernan, fellow anchor Roma Torre, and a handful of NY1 and Time Warner executives had gathered beneath the thin grey clouds shrouding the Empire State Building's famous 86th-floor terrace to commemorate the channel's 20th anniversary, which is Saturday. A few minutes earlier, down in the lobby, Kiernan and Torre flipped the switch on the tower lights that top the building; its crown will be bathed in NY1's signature blue and yellow hues come nightfall.
"It has been a joy-ride from day one," said Torre, a NY1 employee since the very beginning. "When we began, we started out as a very risky venture. Not too many people gave us much of a chance. We were the classic Little Engine that Could in a city ruled by media giants. But we proved that youthful energy and good old-fashioned chutzpah made us very competitive in this market. And today we are chugging along very comfortably right up there alongside all those media giants in the industry."
"I think New Yorkers can't really remember the time when we weren't around, and they're used to us being there when they turn on the TV," added Kiernan. "That makes us an inescapable presence in New York City."
You can watch Kiernan's full remarks in the clip below:
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