NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When the clock hits 11 am, the music swells and the camera light comes on, Meryll Rose — the longtime co-host of NewsChannel 5's Talk of the Town — is the kind of person that makes it all look easy.
For the last 35 years, she's quite literally rolled with the punches with every crazy idea the station has thrown her way. In the station archive, there's a video of Meryll taking boxing lessons on set, handling a snake, learning to play hockey and change a tire in a racing pit crew.
She did it all with that signature Meryll sense of humor.
"What happens when you play a country record backwards?" Meryll asked during a Talk of the Town segment in the 1980s.
"I give up," replied her then co-host Harry Chapman.
"Your girl comes back and your achy break heart continues to mend," replied Rose with a laugh.
At her side from the very beginning was Chapman, who co-hosted Talk of the Town until his retirement in 2006.
"Meryll was always ready, you know? If I couldn’t do it, which was a lot of the time, she could pick it up and make it happen," he said.
Chapman and Rose formed a chemistry on air, no talent coach could ever teach.
"Harry and Meryll were kind of like Regis and Kelly meets Martha Stewart, meets HGTV all wrapped up into the highest rated, most watched, locally produced talk show in the country for decades," said Amy McLemore, a former producer for Talk of the Town.
And with that kind of ratings, Talk of the Town could book just about anyone they wanted. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, actresses Julie Andrews and Jane Seymour and country music legends Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Barbara Mandrell, and Dolly Parton all agreed to interviews with Rose.
"She really goes into every interview prepared," said Tuwanda Coleman, a longtime producer and reporter for Talk of the Town. "Does her homework and she gets out of the guest what viewers want to know."
Meryll could often ask all the good questions because she already knew the answer.
"I’ve never met a person who can pretty much do everything," said Coleman.
"She does all the things that make us all feel inferior in our lives — and I say that with the utmost love and respect," said Paige Brown, a former Producer and Executive Producer for Talk of the Town.
That's because, in her spare time, Meryll and her husband Dan practice all the things she preaches on air.
"She’s a gardener, she’s a painter, she’s a tiler, she can lay floors," said Dan Elkins. "We walked into a house and know how many walls to knock out."
And that's not the only example of Rose going the extra mile. When former producer Paige Brown was diagnosed with leukemia, Meryll made an unexpected pledge.
"I felt like I really needed to do something more," Rose said in an interview.
She committed to running 26.2 miles in the Country Music Marathon in order to raise money for leukemia research.
"The thing about Meryll, she’s not ever in halfway. If she’s in, she’s in 100% And I knew she would do it," said Chapman.
"Oh hey, I feel great. This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done," Rose said as she crossed the finish line for her first-ever marathon.
"And when she came across that finish line and we were able to hug, I mean, it meant so much to me personally. But golly the admiration to do that — can you imagine?" said Brown.
Meryll is more than what meets the eye at the station too.
"All of the promos are not online yet, that’s concerning," said Rose, as she was preparing for a recent show.
In addition to hosting, Rose also serves as one of the indispensable producers on the show — booking, coaching and occasionally a little correcting too. "She’s the best grammar police, the best spelling expert. If she wasn’t so nice and sweet and honest about it, it’d be a little hard to love her," said McLemore.
But perhaps the biggest reason why Meryll makes it all look so easy, is that at the end of the day, she's just being herself.
"I think that Meryll just epitomizes that grace and character and just example of the right way to live," said Brown.
"What is she really like, is she really that sweet? I say yea, that’s who Meryll is. She’s of course human, she has her bad days, but that’s really who she is and that’s the woman I fell in love with," said Elkins, Meryll's husband.
Meryll is a graduate of Hillsboro High School in Nashville and the College of Communications at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She landed her first job after graduation as a reporter and weekend anchor at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga.
After a year in Chattanooga, Meryll returned home to be the co-host of Nashville's first magazine show "PM Magazine." She also served as the producer of that show, until the opportunity arose to develop a new entertainment show for syndication. She joined Jim Owens Entertainment as the producer of the weekly series "This Week in Country Music," which became the popular TNN series "Crook and Chase" which she also produced.
Meryll joined the NewsChannel 5 team in 1987 as the Executive Producer of Talk of the Town. She co-anchored NewsChannel 5's Weekend Morning Report for three years before naming co-host of Talk of the Town.
She says she's eager to travel with her husband Dan and spend more quality time with her five grandchildren.
We will miss her dearly.