Upstairs in the two-floor studio of “Fox & Friends”, hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade are about to return from break.
Their phones are tucked away and papers are placed on the coffee table in front of them, while producers usher in directions through earpieces.
“Has the president tweeted yet?” Kilmeade asks the room.
The anchors return from the break before the question is quite answered.
Business Insider visited the”Fox & Friends” studio on September 12. Here’s what it’s like behind the scenes:
“Fox & Friends” airs with Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Kilmeade weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET (other hosts handle weekends), but the staff starts prepping for the show far earlier than that.
Preparations for the next show begin when the last one ends. The hosts return to their offices and get ready for an editorial meeting at 9:30 a.m. ET.
“Everybody’s got an idea,” host Steve Doocy said. “Oftentimes, during the day, the day before, we’ll send a text or tweet link on a great item that may be perfect for the next morning’s conversation.”
Producer Gavin Hadden encourages everyone to have a say in shaping the show – from the production assistants to the talent.
“We definitely feel that the more people that have a say in the show, the better it will be, and so we have a really strong staff of hardworking, smart people who are coming from every demographic, every age group,” he said.
“We have a diverse team of people who are contributing to the show and finding out what they care about, because if they care about it, then most likely our viewers will, too.”
Most of the hosts begin their days in the early hours of the morning. Each have their own routines for getting ready for the rundown of the show.
Doocy, who is a 20-plus-year veteran of Fox News, gets in at 4:30 a.m. “In the early days I actually used to make the coffee for the entire channel,” he said.
When he gets to the station, Doocy reads through a 200-item packet of news items that is whittled down to 95. Then the team spends 30 or so minutes finding sources the hosts can cite about each of the items.
Kilmeade, who travels from Long Island, spends most of his commute studying and reading the news. He prepares for both “Fox & Friends” and his three-hour radio show, which he leaves for a few minutes after he gets off the air.
Ainsley Earhardt’s process begins at 3 a.m. (After she snoozes her alarm once or twice.)
Once she arrives in the office at 4 a.m., Earhardt’s off to hair and makeup. She spends her time in the makeup chair similarly to her co-hosts, studying her material for the show that will begin in just a few hours.
“From someone who spent years and years on TV doing my own hair and makeup, it’s so nice because I can really focus on what I need to be telling the audience, and that’s the news of the day,” she said.
Earhardt joked that on the local news, she would add some part of her makeup during each commercial break. “I would start with lip liner and in the next commercial break I’d add a little lipstick and then the next commercial break a little lip gloss.”
After she’s done with hair and makeup, Earhardt returns to her office, usually in Lululemon sweats, to pick out her dress and heels for the show.
The show’s meteorologist Janice Dean says she has her morning down to a science, but that the smallest misstep like a forgotten key card can throw it all out of whack.
Dean does her first broadcast at 5:05 a.m. on “Fox & Friends First”, so she is in the office at 3:30 a.m.
“I usually run up to my office on the 17th floor and get my ‘good clothes’ on, come down to the first floor and I have, thankfully, magicians for makeup and hair artists that are able to get me together in 40 minutes,” she said.
Then she gets her maps ready for the day, and by 6 a.m. when “Fox & Friends” goes live, she’s already done one show. “I can take a little bit of a breather and then I get to hang out with these guys, which is so fun,” Dean said.
Once the show starts, things move fast.
Between segments, reporting on the latest news coming in, and speaking with guests, the hosts have to run up and down the stairs of the two-floor studio.
On the day we visited, Laura Ingraham called in to talk about FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Steve Doocy’s son Peter reported from Florida, and Eboni Williams stopped in to promote her new book, “Pretty Powerful.”
The studio is constantly abuzz with cameramen moving in and out, producers briefing the hosts from downstairs, and stage managers throwing hand signals and directions.
Three hours feels like it moves quickly. During breaks, the hosts are checking their phones, getting touch-ups from the makeup artists, and reviewing what will happen in the next block.
“If Steve’s downstairs doing an interview, then Brian’s doing something for radio and I have a little chance to have a little break,” Earhardt said, “then I can read about the next story that’s coming up in the show and just make sure I have my questions prepared. And if there’s any breaking news, I can look online.”
Meteorologist Janice Dean and executive assistant Elizabeth Naifeh spend part of their time behind the camera researching for upcoming segments.
Naifeh said part of her job as executive assistant is coordinating with the hosts in the morning, helping them prep talking points, and gathering sources.
Throughout the show, she constantly brings in new information on guests or breaking news. She also assists Earhardt and Kilmeade with the “Fox & Friends” social media accounts, taking photos and video to post to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Living in a world where social media can reign supreme, production moves quickly to get the latest updates out and ensure viewers are tuning in.
“Our show is dictated by what happens in the world, so when news breaks, we’re on it,” Hadden, the producer, said. “When the biggest story in the nation is out there and people are caring about it and talking about it at a soccer game, we’re talking about it on the couch.”
We asked Hadden what it’s like when news breaks. “It’s completely calm and collected,” he joked.
“We go from social media, we talk to our sources – anybody we can get to give the most factual information as fast as we possibly can – and then we adapt,” Hadden said. “It goes back to the talent of our anchors and that they’re really able to immediately, on a dime, turn to another topic and why it matters, and that is pretty impressive.”
While Trump is a fan, the hosts insist that he is not what shapes the show.
“I don’t see him playing a role except for that he’s always in the news,” Kilmeade said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a president – no matter what he does good and bad – is the lead story on every network and every paper, and I don’t think we’re any exception.”
Some days the show focuses on the president and what tweets while the show airs. But other days, like the one when we visited, Trump takes a back seat.
“The whole idea is to get as many people to watch as possible, and so we try to figure out what the stories are that impact the most people, what is the most compelling story of the day,” Doocy said. “And that’s how we go ahead and set the table in the morning.”
Kilmeade said he appreciates the president’s viewership. “Do you know anybody who would not be flattered by the fact that the president, any president, watches their show every day?” he asked.
At the end of the show, each of the anchors head their separate ways.
Doocy, Earhardt, and Dean film an aftershow for FoxNews.com.
Kilmeade heads to SirusXM to do his three-hour radio show for Fox News’ channel.
Earhardt and Doocy join producer Hadden for their editorial meeting at 9:30 a.m. to prep for the next morning’s show, while Dean stays on air until noon.
Earhardt and Dean also spend time with their young children after work.
“It’s a great schedule if you’re a mom, because the day is done pretty early and then I have the rest of the day with my daughter,” Earhardt said. “I work a full-time job that I love, and I’m a mom full-time that I love.”
Both moms credit naps to helping with the early morning schedule. “When she naps I usually nap, so I’m glad she still takes naps because once that’s done, I don’t know what I’ll do,” Earhardt joked.
By the time we leave the Fox building in Midtown Manhattan at 9:30 a.m., the day’s show is over. Most of the New Yorkers we pass outside are just heading into work, while the hosts of “the most powerful TV show in America” are ready to head home — after they prep for the next day’s broadcast.