When Pat Kiernan walked onto the set of Live! With Kelly last Wednesday, the studio audience erupted. Looking dapper in a pale blue shirt and charcoal tie, this was the NY1 anchor’s live audition for a role he has described as the job of a lifetime.
The rapport between Kiernan and host Kelly Ripa was palpable as he sat comfortably in the seat formerly occupied by broadcasting icon Regis Philbin.
“This is a moment that you all should know has been no less than a year in the making. I started hearing about you and me working together a year ago,” Ripa said while the cameras rolled.
After Philbin retired in November, the show’s producers lined out a slew of guest hosts to sit alongside Ripa since the daytime show was rechristened Live! With Kelly. Some notable co-hosts have been Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Randy Jackson, Seth Meyers and Jerry Seinfeld.
Kiernan’s extensive experience in front of the camera as a host on the top-rated cable channel NY1 meant he was well prepared for his cameo on national TV. However, executives remain tight-lipped about who will nab one of the most coveted positions in daytime TV.
Kiernan pointed out that in spite of his busy schedule with NY1, he still gets to watch Live! With Kelly as it usually airs when he is on his lunch break. His regular work day begins at 4 a.m.
“I've watched for years and I think that we will have good chemistry together,” he assured Ripa.
Kiernan’s popular NY1 segment, “In the Papers,” has become a must-see among New Yorkers in the mornings.
“I trade on the work of other journalists and hold up the various newspaper articles that are my favorite of the morning,” Kiernan told Ripa’s audience.
Adding a flavor to his time with Ripa, he shared the technique to his signature newspaper moves, such as “the pivot” and “the reveal.”
Kiernan’s slot was well received by audiences shown by an online poll conducted by the Huffington Post which showed that over 65 percent of their readers feel that Kiernan is the man to replace Philbin.
Later that night Kiernan and Ripa had an exchange via Twitter. “It was truly a pleasure! Let’s do it again,” tweeted Ripa.
The Irish Voice spoke with Kiernan after the show and he told of his feelings after his appearance.
“It met my highest expectations at how things could go the first time. You immediately see the things you would have done differently,” he says.
“It felt like we had the chemistry, and it felt like it would get easier and easier every time we did the show.”
Kiernan has made no secret out of the fact that his dream job would be to replace Philbin.
“I think at this point I made it clear that I would love to come back,” he told the Irish Voice. “The evidence is in front of them now.”
Irish Canadian Kiernan traces his interest in news back to his adolescence in his home town of Calgary, Alberta.
“I delivered the Calgary Herald for years,” he said.
“I was reliable. But I was the slowest in Canada because I would read the entire newspaper.”
After he completed a bachelor of commerce degree he began working as a general assignment reporter for CFRN television in Canada's fourth-largest TV market.
Throughout his tenure he worked in several roles, including the station's assistant news director, assignment editor, producer and news anchor. He also worked as a senior producer of the prime-time newscast ITV News at Ten on CITV, a Canadian satellite superstation.
Kiernan has also made a cameo as himself in episodes of Spin City and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Kiernan and his wife Dawn moved to New York in March 1996. He joined Time Warner as the anchor and producer of the Fortune Business Report and was named as NY1’s morning anchor in 1997. Time Warner owns and operates NY1.
“You cannot compare the force of the media In New York City to anwhere,” he said.
“The job in NY1 is so well suited to me. It’s kind of a no nonsense anchor man job.
“Ultimately, morning TV is both informative and entertaining.”
So what is the daily existence like for the father of two who rises at 3 a.m.?
“In September it will be 15 years so I know no other reality,” he said.
“You never get used to it. But it becomes your routine.”
Besides his hectic work schedule, Kiernan is grateful that his job allows him to spend afternoons with his two daughters, Lucy, 10, and Maeve, seven.
“My wife does the morning and I am always home when the kids get off the school bus,” he says.
Referring to his youngest daughter’s Irish name he admits, “We have enough trouble explaining the pronunciation.”
Kiernan’s daughters gave their dad a positive review after they watched Live! With Kelly.
“It was fun for them to see me in a different format,” he explained.
He admits that his daughters know no other reality other than watching their dad on TV.
“They are not at all phased by people stopping me on the sidewalk,” he said.
“There is a nice level of notoriety. The paparazzi have better things to do than chase anchors.”
On his Irish roots, Kiernan reveals his ancestors came from Monaghan, Limerick and Cork.
“My dad has been there chasing the family history,” he said.
“When I first moved to New York he was excited to dig into the Ellis Island records.”
While he has never been to Ireland, Kiernan says a visit is on the cards.
“We have got to clear the calendar to do it sometime,” he says . . . although the producers of Live!With Kelly might have something to say about that!