TEN’s own Studio 10 is extending its programme by another hour, set to run from 8:30am – 12 midday from Monday July 24.
“We thought we’d give them more of Joe Hildebrand naked, but no, what they really want is an extra hour,” host Sarah Harris told TV Tonight.
“Being in the ‘bus-driver’ seat as (producer) Rob McKnight calls it, I’m always being told to hurry things along. We’ve got so much to say on so many different topics that I’m having to hard-wrap people. So it will be great to delve into topics a bit better, with more detail and more segments.
“It will be more relaxed, more hot topics and I’m excited about it.”
“We’ve been running our own race”
The TEN show has seen its audience lift by 15% this year, and with no breakfast lead-in, it builds its viewers across the morning.
“We’re not only holding audience, we grow them through the morning. It shows in our numbers, so it makes sense to keep us on for another hour,” she explains.
“We start from a lower point at 8:30. Our show is the only morning show that grows, compared to the earlier hours. So I think we have to capitalise on that. We’re the underdog of morning TV.
“But we’ve been running our own race and giving viewers the best conversations, the best segments that we can put out there. The fact we are a 5 person panel is something completely different.”
“If you pick a side and stay true it….people really stay appreciate that”
Launched in November 2013 Studio 10 survived its more-profile morning partner Wake-Up and has gone on to find a loyal following and Logie nominations. Harris, Jessica Rowe, Joe Hildebrand, Ita Buttrose & Denise Drysdale demonstrate their audience rapport as the only morning show with a daily studio audience.
“It’s a great barometer because it’s instant. Sometimes if you are dancing around a topic, you can see people rolling their eyes. If you pick a side and stay true it, and don’t flip-flop, I think people really stay appreciate that,” she continues.
“Having them in with us, reacting to every conversation we have, has been a real benefit to us.
“It keeps us grounded and keeps us across what is affecting people, day in, day out.
“One of the biggest benefits we have is a panel of seasoned journalists like Ita Buttrose and Joe Hildebrand who can bring credibility to news conversations. But at the same time we’re also lucky to have the lightness and zaniness of people like Denise Drysdale, who add a completely different dimension.”
Harris has also seen her star rise, including her presenting role on Shark Tank, a Logie nomination and stints on The Project and Have You Been Paying Attention? It was a leap of faith to leave Nine News at the behest of producer Rob McKnight, but one which has paid off.
“I’d been an Nine for 12 years and I thought ‘You have to take a few risks in life.’ For me it was a gamble, but it’s paid off. I just feel like I’m learning so much every single day. It’s made me a much better journo and host,” she insists.
“I once had an executive say to me, ‘It’s all about time in the chair. The only way you can get good at things is by doing it over and over again.’ Don’t you need 10,000 hours at something to become an expert at it? I don’t know how many I’ve got to go! Probably many!
“This format and the people I sit next to every day have really allowed me to be myself on television. It’s very different to being a journalist on the road and not showing your personality.
“I’ve worked in a number of newsrooms and teams over the years and this is one of the best and most supportive teams I’ve ever come across.”
“I think I was speaking on behalf of our entire team”
But being more in the spotlight also attracts greater attention. Last week on The Project she was blushing from the compliments showered by Sir Richard Branson (she previously interviewed him in South Africa, when at Nine) and a recent on-air editorial urging for media reform legislation raised some eyebrows on social media.
“It was never meant to look like I had just come up with an inspired or passionate speech to get Canberra to change its mind. But it’s something I definitely believe in and I think I was speaking on behalf of our entire team,” she explains.
“It’s not just Channel TEN pitching for the laws to change.”
Indeed in this precarious time for TEN the extra hour is pitched as some rare good news. But if the cast and crew of Studio 10 are doing overtime out of the goodness of their heart, Harris isn’t saying.
“I can’t stand it when television people whinge about their pay!” she sighs. “How about we get real jobs and go out into the real world?
“In the current climate it’s just nice to know that people want more of us, and not less of us.”
Studio TEN airs at 8:30am weekdays on TEN and from July 24 extends to 12 midday.