With ‘AMHQ,’ Weather Channel reimagines what morning is on TV

By David Bauder / The Associated Press

Published Mar 20, 2014 at 12:01AM

Sam Champion is trying to deliver more than a weather forecast.

The former “Good Morning America” weatherman, who debuted the three-hour “AMHQ” on The Weather Channel on Monday, says he wants to invent a new kind of morning show, to show at 6 a.m. Pacific time on weekdays. His plan is to appeal to the weather geek while not ignoring the rest of the world, with an agenda driven by social media.

“I don’t know if we have the right answers yet,” he said a few days before the premiere, “but we’re working on it.”

The Weather Channel has put its faith behind Champion, naming him the network’s managing editor along with morning host. “AMHQ” will absorb some aspects of the current morning show, including meteorologist Mike Bettes, with news anchor Anaridis Rodriguez and meteorologist Maria LaRosa as the other featured players.

Morning is prime time at The Weather Channel, headquartered in Atlanta, when many of its fans check in to see what the day has to offer.

With news, Champion wants to “forecast the day,” or talk whenever possible about things coming up that will affect the day’s biggest stories. He’d like social media — what stories people are talking about online — to drive his show’s news agenda more than it does for traditional news programs.

“We didn’t sit down and design a show that tries to be like the other shows,” he said. “What we tried to do is design a show that realizes the audience is already partially informed when they turn the TV on. It’s not their first connection to the world. We want to be fast-paced — we don’t want to waste your time, but we want to tell you the things that you’re probably going to want to know more about.”

But he won’t forget the network he’s working for. Each of the show’s three hours will be led by a 15-minute discussion of the day’s weather stories.