The alarm clock howls at 5:45 a.m., and in a fog you jab at it, hoping, at the very least, to knock it onto the floor and silence the cruel contraption.
But as you fumble around on the nightstand, you find the television remote instead, and you flip on the TV because you know that inside the flatscreen you'll find the glow of perky, perfectly coiffed, well-informed people who have been awake way longer than you have.
They know things about the weather (Hurricane Isaac will bring some rain to North Texas), and your commute (yes, it will suck more than usual today, sorry). They also know about the fire overnight at an abandoned warehouse, and the name of Snooki's new baby (Lorenzo Dominic).
Most of all, they know how to help you shake loose the cobwebs and face another long day in DFW.
People like Alexa Conomos, Channel 8's gridlock guru; Evan Andrews, Fox 4's weather whiz; and Brendan Higgins, the former Channel 5 anchor who is back in the saddle at Channel 11, just to name a few. These are the stars of our mornings in the Metroplex -- and they may be the most important personalities in local TV news at the moment.
Thanks to the constant whir of information on Twitter, Facebook and the Internet, the once-sacred 10 p.m. newscast has become more of a recap of the day's news. Ratings are down, and mornings have become the new battleground, where the stations and their personalities are at their most relevant.
Tim Ryan, the longtime co-host of KDFW/Channel 4's Good Day, says the local TV morning show has evolved over the years from an afterthought to a prime slot. In the late '70s, while working at a Phoenix station, he recalls a news director suggesting, "Let's do a half-hour local newscast before the Today show. And everybody thought it was the dumbest idea they'd ever heard.
"But I started my mornings doing a half-hour show. And it later expanded to an hour show."
Now Ryan works on a 4 1/2-hour show at Fox 4 -- the longest and top-rated morning show in DFW (Fox does not have a national morning show, a la Today and Good Morning America.) And the other local stations are doing their best to match Good Day -- expanding to 2 1/2-hours and starting as early as 4:30 a.m.
There is also steady competition to find the right chemistry among the morning teams. For some stations, that's created a revolving door of personalities. Mark Hayes recently made his debut at KXAS/Channel 5 as co-anchor with Deborah Ferguson, who's been doing mornings for the station for more than 10 years. One of Ferguson's former co-anchors, Higgins, joined rival KTVT/Channel 11 this summer after two years off the air; he was teamed with new-to-the-market Adrienne Bankert.
But even if the faces change, the mission remains the same. Make our mornings easier, smarter, more fun, and maybe a little more meaningful.
Tammy Dombeck, the beloved "gridlock buster" who recently left Channel 5 after 12 years, says that is one of the best lessons she learned during her time on TV in the morning.
"You meet people and they'll say, 'I feel like I already know you.' ... I don't feel like I was just a traffic reporter. I feel like I was an actual TV personality that could connect. And that's golden, if you can find a connection with your viewers."
Now if they could just do something about that darn alarm clock!
Learn more about each morning team, their personal caffeine habits, alarm clock insanity, and their thoughts on why the morning TV news has become such a media power player. Also, who lays out their clothes the night before, and who runs a little late because of last-minute change of mind? (We're talking to you, Deborah Ferguson.)
Anchors and teams
For more on Channel 33's zany Eye Opener morning show, click here.
Traffic and weather mavens, and fearless features reporters
Evan Andrews, Fox-4 'Good Day' meteorologist
Fiona Gorostiza of Fox 4 'Good Day'
Greg Fields, News 8 'Daybreak' meteorologist
Alexa Conomos, traffic, News 8 'Daybreak'
Robert Philpot, DFW.com, 817-390-7872