Gay Atlanta’s buff weather daddy Sam Champion is being sidelined amid a corporate realignment, leaving the cocktail sipping, Midtown loving, selfie snapping personality grumbling and his thirsty fans wondering what they’ll do for their morning fix.
Champion’s “AMHQ” debuted in March 2014 to the delight of gay fans and his husband Rubem Robierb, who got a shout out during the debut, yet apparently few others. The low-rated three-hour morning show was the prime target of a restructuring announced on Wednesday that will take The Weather Channel backs to its weather roots and away from its entertainment focused programming of recent years.
Champion, who became the host of the channel's 7 to 10 a.m. hours just last year, will end on October 30. His show, “AMHQ,” includes the kind of lifestyle and entertainment segments that the channel is now moving away from.
The channel says Champion, who was poached from ABC's “Good Morning America,” will remain a full-time host with a focus on prime time and new digital ventures.
The “AMHQ” brand will remain, but it will focus on straight-forward weather storytelling.
“Over the next several months, you will see us further simplify our branding across all dayparts,” Shull said in his internal memo. “Regardless of the time of day, our mission is the same — to provide the best weather forecasts and stories, and scientific expert explanations of those forecasts.”
Reverting to focusing purely on weather might delight weather geeks, but it will leave gay fanboys thirsting for more Champion. His role with the morning show ends Oct. 30 and his less defined primetime and digital roles start Nov. 2.
Champion’s duties will look something like this, according to a Weather Channel memo via the AJC:
In his new role, he will take the lead in expanding increased weather coverage into our primetime schedule. As part of this, he will work to create regular primetime shows that highlight the intersection of new technologies and weather. Working closely with Nora Zimmett, Sam will create editorial content and host on-screen segments as we launch our new “Local Now” product for OTT providers. His deep understanding of local television will be crucial in helping us build our network of local content with the major broadcast station groups.
Champion has embraced gay Atlanta since his arrival from New York last year, hitting the HRC dinner and other LGBT events, backing his bae during an art opening, staying fit with workouts at LA Fitness and delighting us with selfies from his beachy holigays.
But losing his morning show has left Champion a little bitter and industry watchers wondering if The Weather Channel is looking to push him out to save on Champion’s $2 million annual salary. Via New York Daily News:
“He thought he’d be showered with money, power and prestige” when he ditched “GMA” at the height of its popularity for the Weather Channel in 2013, a TV industry insider told us. “Instead, he’s been left high and dry.”
“He is pissed!” says a source close to Champion. According to our insider, “He left ‘GMA’ for this job with tons of promises, including getting a percentage of merchandise sold with his name on it — umbrellas, boots, hats, etc. None of it happened.”
The channel very publicly lured him away in December 2013. “Brand Champion” was promised more money and influence as well as the right to market merchandise under his own name, which his contract at ABC prohibited.
Champion, for his part, is playing loyal company man. For now.