John Roberts courtesy CNN
Former CBS News veteran John Roberts is coming up on his first year as co-anchor of CNN's American Morning. While it's not getting the same ratings boom that the cable network is experiencing the rest of the day, AM's first-quarter audience is up 11 percent from a year ago as Roberts and co-anchor Kiran Chetry offer a more straight-ahead alternative to the entertainment/news hybrids that the broadcast networks and Fox News offer in the morning. But Roberts tells The Biz the program will be getting some adjustments when a new executive producer comes onboard.

TVGuide.com: Your anniversary on American Morning is the same day as the [anniversary] of the biggest domestic stories of last year, the Virginia Tech shooting.
John Roberts:
On April 16 Kiran and I did our very first show together. I was in Washington, she was in New York. Literally at the end of the show the Virginia Tech shooting broke and we found ourselves on the road. It's a shame that was such a tragedy that threw us right into the thick of things. It was a good way to bond with her on the air, and the bond has grown since then.

TVGuide.com: American Morning isn't as breezy as the other morning shows. Nobody's standing outside with signs; you're sitting behind desks most of the time.
Roberts:
We find our viewers turn out to be after real, actual news rather than lighter information. They don't come to us to learn how to cook a hamburger or the latest celebrity gossip. It's a little more business-like. There are some people who wake up in the morning who want to see a rock concert. There are other people who wake up in the morning and want to know what's going on in politics; they want to know what's going on in the world of the economy and in the international scene. For that information they can come to us. We're going to give them a quick digest of what's going on in the world. They can tune in for five or 10 minutes and learn pretty much what they need to know to start their day.

TVGuide.com: You'll have a new executive producer soon. Will that bring about any changes?
Roberts:
We'll take the opportunity to just tweak around the edges of the show. The show as it is right now is fairly heavily scripted. I think going forward we'll try to pare back the amount of scripting that we've got and introduce a little more of an ad lib aspect to it, which will make the show a little looser, a little more accessible, and allow Kiran and I to draw on the experiences we've had as journalists, and convey that information to viewers. I'm looking forward to that, as too much scripting of a show can take away some of the spontaneity.

TVGuide.com: When you started out in TV journalism, you covered music. I hear you have a pretty serious guitar collection.
Roberts:
I don't really collect them. I've got a couple that are collectible. I've got a couple of '59 Les Paul reissues that are really nice. I have a 1972 Ramirez 1A classical guitar with Brazilian rosewood, which is quite valuable. For 20 years, I suppressed the information that I played in a band when I was a kid. Now it's chic to be playing music, with people like Bob Schieffer and Mike Huckabee doing it.

TVGuide.com: What's on your iPod right now?
Roberts:
Red Hot Chili Peppers to U2 to Kenny Chesney... you name it. I have very diverse taste in music. My musical dream would be to get up on stage and play guitar with U2.

TVGuide.com: How does CBS News look in your rearview mirror these days? You were part of it for a long time.
Roberts:
I was. It was very hard leaving. It was my only home in the United States. I came down to the U.S. from Canada in 1989 and worked at the CBS station in Miami, then moved up to the network in 1992 and knew a lot of people there. But all the people who I knew, with a few exceptions, are gone. It's a different place than it was. CNN is such a terrific place to be. It's wonderful to be at a place that covers news. I remember at CBS it was terribly frustrating to be sitting on the anchor desk wondering if we were going to cut in - then being told no, there's an entertainment program on, we want to see what the other two guys are doing before we go ahead. Here, it's the race to be first on the air. We're doing an amazing job covering politics. I am so proud of this place. When you compare our coverage to others, it's like the difference between TV and radio. It's the quality, the technology and the depth of our journalists. It's a joy to watch.