On Facebook late last night, she said, "Friday is my last show. Wow---that's weird to write. I am very thankful to Fox 8 for bringing me back, but the show is going in a different direction and it's not one I want to go in. Thanks to all who have watched and supported me! We'll keep in touch here, okay? XOXOXO"
The show, originally called "That's Life," began four years ago. After the jump I have posted an interview I did with her before the series premiered in 2007.
When Robin Swoboda talked about her latest decision to return to television, she mentioned that her new show can be done while her children are in school.
There are three in her Medina home -- Hallie, Matthew and Will -- as well as her husband, former Browns punter Bryan Wagner, now a teacher and coach. This matters for a couple of reasons.
For one, in an era when "spending more time with the family" is a cliche to explain unexpected job departures, it's a phrase with real meaning to Swoboda.
Since the Missouri native came to Northeast Ohio in 1986 after TV jobs in Moline and Miami, she has more than once walked away from -- and accepted -- on-air jobs based on how they fit with her family time.
For another, Swoboda knows what it's like to be a stay-at-home mom. She has had those days where, as she said, "you start wearing sweatpants and not wearing makeup." Hair-brushing optional. Where a feeling of isolation can become so strong that radio commentators Glenn Beck and Dennis Prager started feeling like her best friends; after all, they were talking to her every day.
And, having been in that place she calls "an abyss," Swoboda thinks she can reach out to women in the same spot with That's Life, her show premiering at 10 a.m. Monday on WJW (Channel 8).
"I really value the people who are home in the morning," she said recently by telephone from Channel 8's Cleveland offices. "I want to come across as their friend, someone they can relate to -- to inform them and entertain them and give them hope. . . . These are people that need to be encouraged."
To WJW, Swoboda can provide that encouragement, as well as bringing in viewers who have long associated her with the Fox station. (Of a stint at WEWS [Channel 5] from 1998 to 2000, Swoboda said, "Their research showed that people thought I was still on Channel 8.")
This is her third tour of duty at Channel 8, where she offered up a personality and a name that didn't always sit well other places.
In Illinois, she was Robin Cole on the air. Other places, she once said, expected her to be "flashy and sophisticated." But at Channel 8, she told a reporter in 1986, she could be "Robin Swoboda, the klutz from Missouri."
Of course, the looks -- which seemed to make some observers lose all power of reason -- didn't hurt either. In 1989, she topped a local radio station's poll asking which news anchor people wanted to see in Playboy. But the personality clicked, too. And the new show will very much be driven by Swoboda's personality and interaction with the audience.
There will be a small group of regular folks in the studio each day. WJW programming chief Kevin Salyer said you can also expect visits and taped segments from Channel 8 personalities like David Moss, Kenny Crumpton, John Rinaldi and Dick Goddard, as well as radio's Jimmy Malone, Joe Cronauer, Rebecca Wilde and Jen Toohey.
"We also might get some of Robin's old friends from the Fish," added Salyer, referring to WFHM (95.5-FM), where Swoboda was an on-air personality for three years.
The idea, which will also include road trips at some point, "is to surround (Swoboda) with a revolving door of special, unique personalities," Salyer said. Then, as audiences locally have so often seen, Swoboda may amuse, surprise -- and startle. While the guests may be plentiful, Salyer said, "I never saw this with a co-host."
The idea is also to create a somewhat light-hearted programming bloc with That's Life and the new, nationally distributed The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet, hosted by Fox News' Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy. That show begins on Jan. 22, although at one time Channel 8 hoped to launch both it and That's Life on Jan. 8.
Salyer summed up That's Life as "infotainment." He drew the line before "infomercial." Unlike the sponsor-driven Good Company on WKYC (Channel 3), Salyer said, "we're not selling segments."
Salyer also called That's Life "controlled chaos" and "totally, completely unpredictable." Or, as Swoboda put it, "you start with something and then go off in a different direction." On paper, it calls to mind a more adrenalized Morning Exchange -- once the home of That's Life producer Jean Considine of Hudson, and where Swoboda was one of the last co-hosts. But Salyer and Swoboda promised change, that the references to interactivity in program promotions are not idle chat.
"We want people to tell us, 'are you liking this segment,' 'are you liking this guest,' " Salyer said. "They can have a huge impact."
And Swoboda expects to have an impact on them.