WIVB-TV’s Dave Greber started his new role as co-anchor of the morning program “Wake Up!” earlier this month by saying he was "so excited."
In fact, Greber and his Channel 4 co-anchor Melanie Orlins said they were “so happy” and “so excited” so often in the first few minutes together that you might have thought the Pointer Sisters song would be the program’s new theme song.
I’ve never seen someone so happy to get up every day at around 3 a.m. to go to work.
“Now you have to go to bed the same time as your kids,” said Orlins on Greber’s first show.
“Or before them,” answered Greber.
To be honest, I was about as excited about watching the first week of the 6 a.m. hour of “Wake Up!” as I would have been rewatching Greber’s sympathetic interview with Rep. Chris Collins a week earlier.
The interview didn’t generate much new news and Collins has reversed the news he made by campaigning for re-election despite telling Greber he would help the Republicans in their process to replace him.
In his first week on “Wake Up!,” Channel 4 showed portions of the Greber interview to show how much Collins’ position has changed.
After watching the first five days of the 6 a.m. hour of “Wake Up!”, I came away thinking Greber’s position change from the 4 and 6:30 p.m. co-anchor to early morning is a positive one because he appeared to have instant chemistry with Orlins.
They seem to be having fun when they aren’t reading the deadly serious news on the early morning program.
Before Greber’s soft interview with Collins, I had been a fan of his work as a reporter and anchor.
He has a strong voice and a commanding presence.
In his first regular week on the morning shift, he also got to show off his personality during happy talk.
Of course, most of the morning program consists of meteorologist Mike Cejka delivering frequent – too frequent – weather reports and Orlins and Greber reading news that might have appeared on the station’s 11 p.m. newscast the night before.
The moments where there is room for levity is what attracts many viewers, and nobody does that better in Western New York than the cast of WGRZ-TV (Channel 2’s) first-place morning program, “Daybreak.”
Greber seems to have been cast to infuse “Wake Up!” with more of the personality needed to combat “Daybreak.”
One of the first stories he addressed was the halftime retirement of former Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis.
“It is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen,” Greber said.
Before long, Greber was revealing to viewers, “I’m not good with heights,” and he and Orlins engaged in a somewhat awkward discussion about Justin Bieber being engaged.
“Sorry, Mel,” he cracked.
“I’m flattered you think I might be a similar age to him,” she replied.
That exchange illustrated Greber has much more personality than his predecessor, Jordan Williams, a solid newsman who seemed ill-suited to mornings because humor didn’t come easy to him.
On Tuesday (Sept. 18), Greber started to “speak sing” the words to a tune from “Mary Poppins” on a story about a remake of the classic film.
Then he and Orlins discussed how annoying it is to get robocalls, something that was easy for many viewers to relate to if they own a phone.
On Wednesday (Sept. 19), the co-anchors discussed a decision by the Texas Board of Education to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the state’s curriculum.
“This had our newsroom talking,” said Orlins, adding Helen Keller “was such an inspiration.”
“History is part of real life,” said Greber, before paraphrasing the classic line “those who are not going to learn from it will repeat it.”
Soon, they were discussing emojis and an upcoming Christmas concert.
When Greber suggested that it was too early to think about the holidays, Orlins asked: “Are you Scrooge? I would think you are a big holiday guy.”
“I am when the holidays happen,” said Greber.
On Thursday (Sept.20), another somewhat awkward but entertaining happy talk discussion ensued – this time concerning a baby boom in Erie, Pa., nine months after a record snowstorm there.
“What else are you going to do when you cannot leave the house?” said Greber.
The comment came a day after former Bills receiver Jordan Matthews said he became a father because there was nothing else to do in Buffalo than … well, you know.
“I don’t know,” said Orlins, who seemed to be a little uncomfortable. “We are going to send it over to (traffic reporter) Mike McQueen so we can cut this conversation.”
On Friday (Sept.21), Greber was back being “excited” about the news that Tashi the rhino at the Buffalo Zoo is pregnant.
It had nothing to do with the snowstorm.
By the holidays, we might know if this new Channel 4 pairing is going to succeed.
But off the first week, Channel 4 should have some reason to be “so excited” about the possibility.