If “The Chat Room,” Atlanta’s newest arts, entertainment and lifestyle talk show had a theme song, it would surely be Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox‘s “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.”
Last Sunday at 11:30 a.m. the talk show debuted with no fanfare or promotion on the airwaves at 11 Alive WXIA-TV. Still, the show hosted by veteran Atlanta news anchors Shaunya Chavis and Kimberley Kennedy, beat its lead-in program “The Chris Matthews Show” in the local ratings.
“This is really a story about reinventing yourself,” explains Kennedy. “We saw this tremendous void in the market for intelligent talk focused on Atlanta-based entertainment and lifestyle. The news broadcasts are only covering apartment fires and murder. That gives us quite a lot to talk about.”
But this time, the ladies are literally in the anchor chairs. “The Chat Room” was conceived by former Action News anchor Chavis and is produced via her production company, Media Miracles, Inc. Late last year, over a quick snack of banana nut bread and coffee at Starbucks, the duo (who once trod the same carpeting at WSB-TV but had never met) decided to team up.
“I knew that together we could be a dynamic duo!” Chavis recalls laughing. “As soon as we got on that couch together to shoot the pilot, it was like we had been girlfriends forever.”
WXIA-TV was so pleased with the pilot, they found an 11:30 a.m. Sunday time slot for “The Chat Room” on both 11 Alive and at 12:30 p.m. Sundays on its sister station WATL My ATL.
Intel was in the studio audience when “The Chat Room” taped the Mother’s Day-themed episode set to air this week. Guests include radio and Georgia Lottery personality and jazz promoter Rene Miller and a sizzling conversation with pioneering CNN anchors Lyn Vaughn and Bobbie Battista. To say that Vaughn and Battista are displeased with the current state of cable news is comparable to characterizing Eliot Spitzer as a charismatic talk show host.
Before bringing her news anchor mentor out, Chavis warns the studio audience, “I had to set limits with Miss Lynn. She’s very passionate about this issue.”
While we won’t dish on everything Vaughn had to say in the episode, (believe us, you need to tune in) we did scribble down this choice quote: “We’ve lost the art of reporting. It isn’t about speculating on what happened. It should be about presenting the facts!”
Recalling the infancy of CNN in the early 1980s, Battista told Chavis and Kennedy: “We would be in the studio doing the news with wrestlers walking down the hall. Ted Turner would visit the set in his bathrobe!”
Says Chavis later: “That interview really embodies our goal with ‘The Chat Room.’ We want to inform and to entertain but we’re also going to bring experience and integrity to the process.”