Carol Costello’s new HLN show debuted this week

This was posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta-based HLN is attempting to zig where CNN zags.

While CNN obsesses over every move Trump, HLN is chasing after a different news audience, one that is less driven by politics and what happens in D.C. and generally more female. In fact, HLN’s entire on-air daytime staff is now female, from Robin Meade in the mornings to Erica Hill and Michaela Pereira in the afternoons to Ashleigh Banfield at night.

Carol Costello at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and S.E. Cupp at 7 p.m. also joined the lineup this week.

Costello, who has spent several years at HLN and CNN in Atlanta over the years, is working out of Los Angeles, where her husband works. But a vast majority of her 15 staffers work out of CNN Center in Atlanta. She hired them all from scratch and it took several months to find the right mix of people.

“I’m a plain spoken kind of person,” Costello said last week in an interview before the show launched. “My staff needs to be able to write news in that vernacular. I needed good journalists who are able to call out bull and are fabulous writers. That takes a minute to find.”

Costello, who was born in Ohio, said CNN tends to cater more to the urban coastal viewers. She wants to chase after her own Midwestern audience with subjects that matter to them such as the opioid crisis. “I will talk to people on Chris Christie‘s commission, two people in the first week. I’m going to ask them exactly what they’re doing to push forward an agenda and I will talk to people suffering. People want stuff done. That’s why they took a chance on Donald Trump. We’ll hold their feet to the fire.”

She also hopes to focus on military issues: “There are people still dying in Afghanistan. Why are we ignoring that? I want to delve into issues important to military families. We often forget them unless we see them in the airport.”

And other key issues Trump has referenced such as infrastructure, tax reform and health care will be addressed in detail, she said. She also wants to talk to farmers. During her time off, she collected more than 75 people she thinks might be useful guests for her, folks who are not regulars on CNN and from all over the country.

On day one, she also got to geek out over the solar eclipse. “We have some very famous astronauts booked,” she said before her first day. “I love astronauts. I will be able to talk about science and space in a fun way that America isn’t used to.”

Costello actually started at HLN when it was still CNN Headline News back in 2001 for six months working with Chuck Roberts in Atlanta. She then moved over to CNN’s “Daybreak,” then “American Morning” as a news reader and correspondent. In 2008, she moved to D.C. in the “Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, the only time she was actually close enough to her husband Timothy Snyder to live with him while he worked in Baltimore.

But after he moved to Connecticut, she returned to Atlanta to anchor mid-mornings in 2012. For two years, she stayed in Atlanta before going to New York for the first time in 2014. Her husband was still in Baltimore at the time so that was manageable. Then last year, he landed a college presidency job at Loyola-Marymount in Los Angeles. So the move to HLN worked perfectly for her family.

ON TV

“Across America With Carol Costello,” 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., weekdays, HLN

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