Chetry settles into 'Morning' at CNN

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NEW YORK -- A month after joining CNN after being spurned by Fox News in her quest to co-anchor that network's morning show, Kiran Chetry has been named co-anchor with John Roberts of "American Morning."

They will replace Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien, who have been paired on the underperforming morning show since Miles O'Brien replaced Bill Hemmer in June 2005. Both will remain at CNN in new roles.

Roberts and Chetry will begin April 16.

CNN president Jon Klein said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters that "Morning" was lagging behind the rest of CNN's lineup as the only show from 6 a.m. to midnight without double-digit growth in March 2007 and the first quarter. "Morning" growth was only 3%.

"It's not enough. We want it to be more," Klein said.

It's the second change in as many years for the show, which has long been second place to Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" and had been feeling heat from MSNBC's simulcast of the radio show "Imus in the Morning." The show has seen changes behind the scenes, with the departure in 2006 of morning-show vp Kim Bondy.

Klein said CNN wouldn't change the hard-news emphasis of "American Morning," which is virtually alone among the morning shows on broadcast TV and cable.

"We think we have the right format," Klein said. He said he had been thinking of the change for a while but wanted to make sure he had the right people in place. With Chetry's hiring, that happened.

"One look at her tells you why she deserves the slot," Klein said. "She's a fantastic anchor. She lights up the screen. And she's got a passion for news."

Chetry started her career at a Rockville, Md., news outlet and worked in Erie, Pa., and Sacramento before joining Fox News Channel in 2001.

Roberts joined CNN in early 2006 as senior national correspondent after a 14-year career at CBS. He has been chief White House correspondent and heir apparent to Dan Rather for years; he's done award-winning work at CNN here and abroad since joining the network.

"There's no stronger class of news anchor," Klein said.

Soledad O'Brien, the former NBC News correspondent, will become anchor/special correspondent for "CNN Special Investigations Unit." Miles O'Brien will become the network's chief technology and environment correspondent. Klein said that both were top-notch reporters and it made sense for them to follow their passions in that area. Soledad O'Brien has been co-anchor of "American Morning" since July 2003 and reported from the scene of the 2005 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and other regions while there.

Miles O'Brien, the network's science and space correspondent as well as an anchor, joined "American Morning" in 2005 after anchoring the early afternoon news on CNN. But he had continued to cover the space program while a co-anchor of "American Morning," even traveling to Florida on the weekends to attend launches.
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