Eric Roby and Suzanne Boyd were on the air together for almost 20 years and became popular co-anchors on WPEC-TV, Sinclair’s CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida. But by 2018, they had both had enough, not liking the negativity of daily broadcast news — a shooting here, a fire there. It felt to them like easy reporting that did not affect a large audience, Roby said. So when their contracts were up, they left and went their separate ways: Roby to real estate, and Boyd creating Suzanne Boyd Productions and dabbling in Facebook Live.
Last spring, the two decades-long friends met for lunch and had an idea: “Let’s start our own show,” Boyd said. And they didn’t need traditional TV to do it.
“Rise + Live with Roby and Suze” was born on June 21 on Facebook Live, a new episode streaming every Friday at 9:30 a.m. The show originates from an art gallery in Delray Beach, Florida with a live audience, a DJ and an open bar. It has regular segments such as “Can We Do It?” — Boyd and Roby go to local businesses and try to do those people’s jobs. One of Roby’s favorites was when they became zookeepers at the Lion Country Safari…well, only Boyd did. Roby became a chimp.
The show grew quickly, averaging 10,000 viewers per Facebook Live episode. It generated revenue with traditional commercials as well as sponsored segments, but a lot of advertisers remained hesitant.
“It was more challenging when we were just an online show. Advertisers and sponsors love traditional TV,” Boyd said.
Then something unexpected happened. In mid-September, Boyd and Roby’s former general manager at WPEC reached out and offered them a chance to go back on television.
“I think that [WPEC is] looking at ways to create content and distribute content that other people aren’t doing,” Boyd said. “And given the fact that we were on CBS 12 for many years, it just seemed like a natural fit.”
The two former anchors turned morning hosts agreed to come back and chose the same 9:30 Friday time slot as their online show. “We wanted to capture that [feeling]: ‘Oh thank God, it’s Friday morning,’” Roby said. According to Boyd, the weekly TV show’s debut episode competed effectively against syndicated stalwart Live With Kelly and Ryan, but she and Roby did not want to give up Facebook Live. In fact, they also stream the show from their own website, WPEC’s website and the Rise and Live YouTube channel. And in addition to WPEC, the show appears on Sinclair’s CW affiliate in the market.
“Whatever device people are on, we’re still able to give them the show — live,” Boyd said. “I really believe that not everyone is watching TV, and we’ve had several people say, ‘I really hope that you’re not going to stop streaming live on Facebook or stop streaming live on your website, because that’s where I watch you.’”
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