Regis Retires - Eric & Kelly

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Posted by george a. herbert on January 18, 2011 at 17:43:01:

Move over, Regis: Mix morning host wins guest shot with Kelly

January 18th, 2011 @ 12:00 am

Now that he’s won a coveted spot filling in for Regis Philbin alongside Kelly Ripa on their nationally syndicated show, Eric Ferguson says he finds the whole idea “stunning and scary.”

The top-rated morning personality on WTMX-FM (101.9) learned Monday that he was one of five winners of the show’s “Men of Radio” contest and will appear on Live with Regis & Kelly as guest co-host one day next week.

Ferguson (pictured left) should feel right at home working with Ripa. As one-half of The Eric & Kathy Show on the Bonneville International hot adult-contemporary station, he’s been mixing it up with partner Kathy Hart for the last 15 years. But that doesn’t stop him from worrying.

“Getting the chance to co-host Regis & Kelly is both stunning and scary,” he told me. “Stunning that I actually made the cut — thanks to the voting of our great listeners. And scary that I might not be able to hold my own with Kelly. Have you seen her? She’s in tremendous shape! I have no idea what’s in store for me, but we’re all about to find out.”

Nearly 900,000 votes were cast online for the 10 finalists from markets across the United States and Canada. Each of them submitted a video to argue his case, with Ferguson turning up inside the scoreboard at Wrigley Field and on the ice at the United Center, wearing a Blackhawks jersey with the name “Regis Phil-in.” (Here is the link.)

He also showed up on WGN-Channel 9’s 5pm. newscast last week to “beg and plead” for votes with news anchor Mark Suppelsa, a former contributor to Ferguson’s morning show on the Mix. (Here is the link.) Live with Regis & Kelly airs from 9 to 10am weekdays on Tribune Co.-owned Channel 9.

Ferguson was the only winner Monday from Chicago or the Midwest. The four others were from Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, and Ottawa, Ontario. But Ferguson isn’t the first Chicagoan to fill in for Philbin. In 2009, Pat Tomasulo, sports anchor for Channel 9’s morning show, won a similar contest among local television personalities.

A stunt to find fill-ins for Ripa among “The Women of Radio” last August generated tons of publicity for the show — which is, of course the whole point.

Follow Up: In a surprise announcement Tuesday, Philbin told viewers that he plans to retire after 28 years on the show. “There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people,” he joked.

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