Late on a Friday last spring, Amy Robach's agent called with urgent news: Popular soft-news talk show Strahan, Sara, and Keke was being replaced with a daily coronavirus report — and she'd been tapped to host. Robach, already a staple on Good Morning America and 20/20, had 48 hours to say yes or no.
The decision took her less than a minute. "My first reaction was, 'Are you kidding me? I'm in! This is what I love to do,'" Robach tells ELLE.com. "The job entailed live interviews, on top of anchoring and hosting duties. I have a lot of cable news experience and reporting experience, so it felt in my wheelhouse."
The show was supposed to be temporary, a "two-week experiment" as reported by Page Six, with Strahan, Sara, and Keke hosts Michael Strahan, Sara Haines, and Keke Palmer rumored to make a return post-pandemic. But as coronavirus cases continued to rise in the U.S., Robach's hard news program landed a permanent home during GMA's third hour at 1 p.m. and picked up the official name GMA3: What You Need to Know. Now it has a second host, ABC News Correspondent T.J. Holmes, and a resident medical advisor, ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.
"Even though it's an extreme pivot, it's an organic pivot, because it's where our world is right now," Robach says of GMA3. "We're reacting to what people want now, which is very different from what they wanted six months ago."
Robach credits Strahan, Sara, and Keke for being an "amazing show for its time," filling "the need of the audience at the time, which was a much lighter time in our country and our world."
But those needs have changed drastically, she says, and "people are hungry for information and for inspiration." Since GMA3 first aired back in March, Robach has helped expanded coverage beyond coronavirus to include the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2020 presidential election, and the devastating West Coast wildfires.
"And we'll evolve based on where the news cycle takes us," Robach says. "One of our goals right now is to interview governors from all 50 states, making sure we get the leaders of our states held accountable and talking about what they're doing to keep their citizens and residents safe."
Robach says there were no hard feelings following the sudden suspension of Strahan, Sara, and Keke. "Everybody seems happy now, and excited about where their careers are going," she explains. "Everyone landed in really awesome places and everyone is continuing to grow."
Haines, whom Robach calls one of her "dearest friends," went back to co-hosting The View. "Of course Sara loved doing Strahan, Sara, and Keke, but The View was her first real home where she felt like she was doing something that mattered and that she loved," Robach says. "But she feels like she went back home, she's so happy."
And Robach sees Strahan almost every day at ABC's Manhattan studios, where he still cohosts GMA. If anything, Robach says, the pandemic has brought them closer together.
"With fewer people on set [in the studio], Michael and I have really just gotten to, in a weird way, be more relaxed and have more fun when the cameras turn off," Robach says. "To have somebody you can chill with and laugh with when the cameras aren't rolling [is nice]. We've grown even closer, and he's very happy for us and very happy for the show."
As for Palmer, Robach says, their "paths didn't cross much" at ABC. Still, she feels proud of everything Palmer has accomplished both personally and professionally—and would love to have her on GMA3 as a guest.
"She's doing so much work within Disney and also with her activism and hosting the VMAs," Robach says. "She's always welcome on the show, always. She has so much to talk about... She's only juggling about 10 different jobs!"
Robach can relate. She hosts GMA in the mornings and GMA3 in the afternoons. Any spare time is spent reporting 20/20 stories. Her latest segment, out Friday, will feature the first jailhouse interview with "suitcase killer" Melanie McGuire, who was sentenced to life in prison 13 years ago for the murder of her husband, Bill McGuire.
"Some days are easier than others," Robach says. "But I've always been an organized person and a list maker. So I just map out my time."
She aims to be back from the studio and at her West Village apartment in New York City every day with enough time to cook dinner (all recipes come from her mom's keto-friendly blog). Then she watches Jeopardy with her husband and kids, before going to bed at 9:30, which "makes the big difference" for her mental health.
"I don't feel overwhelmed, I don't feel overworked," Robach says. "I feel 100 percent blessed and grateful to be where I am and to be doing what I'm doing."
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