CBS Mornings took the place of CBS This Morning starting Sept. 7, with Nate Burleson moving in alongside Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil. A former NFL player, Burleson signed a long-term deal with CBS that has him not only co-hosting CBS Mornings, but also appearing on CBS Sports and Nickelodeon.
“I plan on adding some spice, if you will, to the successful recipe that is CBS Mornings,” Burleson told B+C. “I’m an individual with a unique skill set, much more than an athlete.”
CBS Mornings comes from a new studio in Times Square. Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, called Burleson “one of those once-in-a-generation type of voices,” who brings “an enormous amount of energy and chemistry to the team.” He also called him a “Renaissance man,” whose interests go well beyond sports, and include poetry, fashion and investment.
Burleson mentioned Ahmad Rashad as an influence, calling him smooth, well spoken and also a Black football player. “It blew me away that he was known for one thing at one point in his life, then he completely rewrote the narrative,” said Burleson.
He also mentioned James Brown of CBS Sports as a role model, and noted that Michael Strahan “laid a blueprint for guys like me.”
Burleson described himself as a “team-first guy” with a deep respect for his co-hosts, and those who sat there before him.
Anthony Mason has departed his co-host role, now covering the arts across CBS News. “Anthony does the most incredible arts and culture profiles,” said Khemlani. “Why not unleash him to be a seven-day-a-week franchise player who does stories as daring as the people he is profiling?”
Burleson called Mason “a fantastic talent with a long, long, strong resume.”
He mentioned taking part in a “broadcast boot camp” during his playing days, where players learned the nuances of television. He called it “incredibly helpful.” Burleson mentioned struggling to keep up with live game action at NFL Network, and doubling down on his preparation. He’d close his eyes when TV analysts were speaking, paying extra attention to their words, and turn the sound down and study their body language when they were on screen.
Burleson appreciated the criticism from his mentors. “If I’m not doing well, you need to tell me. It’s good for me, it’s good for the show,” he said. “We don’t just take the coaching--we embrace it, we yearn for it.”
Working on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football got Burleson used to waking up early. “I’ve been waking up the last five years before the sun comes up,” he said. “I don’t need to change my alarm.”
CBS This Morning debuted in 2012, replacing The Early Show and offering viewers a harder mix of news than they might find on ABC and NBC. With CBS Mornings, CBS aims to have the morning show more in line with CBS Sunday Morning. Khemlani described the rebrand to B+C as a chance to “connect the dots,” and offer deep, distinctive stories seven mornings a week. “It’s about organizing ourselves in a way that unleashes that kind of storytelling,” Khemlani said.
Burleson was a wide receiver with the Vikings, Seahawks and Lions. His 11-year career concluded in 2013, and prepped him well for his next chapter. “There have been times in my career where I was asked to be the man,” he said. “It gave me the confidence to be OK with being on stage alone.”
CBS Mornings won’t see him onstage alone, and Burleson is good with that. “More often than not, I’ll be the best supporting actor I can be,” he said.
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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