CMT personalities Katie Cook and Greg Martin will assume hosting duties on CMT Most Wanted Live beginning Saturday (Jan. 5). They replace Lance Smith and news anchor Amber Mogg who were with the live daily show from its premiere in May. Smith will replace Cook as host of CMT’s Top Twenty Countdown and will be part of other CMT special presentations.
The reshuffling is part of a larger overhaul of CMT Most Wanted Live that will give the show a slightly different look, feel and time slot.
The show will air Tuesday to Saturday from 7-8 p.m. ET/PT. The Saturday edition will feature live reports from Cook backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and will lead into CMT’s weekly Opry telecast, also hosted by Cook.
“The great thing about having Katie and Greg host the show is their long love and knowledge of country music,” says Kaye Zusmann, CMT’s vice president, program development and production. “Much like Lance, they’re huge fans, not only of where country is today but where it has come from.
“Lance has been so phenomenal for us on Most Wanted Live that he’s literally become the ambassador for the network. We have needed to take him out and use him around the country at different events, and because of the schedule of Most Wanted Live we haven’t been able to. To be able to have Greg and Katie step in makes perfect sense. The artists know and respect them, and they love this music.”
MWL is an hour-long video countdown show in which viewers request their favorite music clips via country.com or a toll-free phone number. The show includes a mix of country music news, artist appearances and video debuts. Brad Paisley will perform acoustically Saturday (Jan. 5), and Alan Jackson will make a guest appearance Jan. 12.
Following a long run at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the show moves Saturday to its new home at The Gibson Bluegrass Showcase at Opry Mills. Located across from the Grand Ole Opry House, The Gibson Bluegrass Showcase is a concert venue, instrument outlet and manufacturing facility where visitors can experience the craftsmanship and tradition that goes into Gibson’s instruments.
“The most exciting element for us, and the impetus for the move, is that The Gibson Bluegrass Showcase allows us to feel like we are inside the music,” Zusmann says. “We’re inside a place where this great sound that helps define country music is being made. Since we’re a show about having artists come on and talk about their music and perform their music and show their new music, the location is a perfect fit for us.”
Also new, MWL and Grand Ole Opry Live will launch on CMT Canada for a combined North American viewership of 63 million households.
Cook, who turns 31 on Tuesday (Jan. 8), was born in London but has lived in Nashville most of her life. Her father is singer-songwriter Roger Cook, whose credits include Don Williams ’ “I Believe in You,” Crystal Gayle ’s “Talking in Your Sleep,” The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress),” The Fortunes’ “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” and the theme song for the long-running Coca-Cola commercial, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”
Following in her father’s footsteps, Cook is a singer and songwriter. She landed a publishing deal with EMI and was a member of vocal group Reno, who released two singles on Curb Records before breaking up. Cook joined CMT in 2001, hosting Top Twenty Countdown and network specials on Farm Aid and the Country Freedom Concert.
Martin, 32, is a native of Ruston, La. He earned a bachelor’s degree in hospital administration from Auburn University in 1992. Before moving to Nashville, he lived in Southern California and gained experience in front of the camera taking various acting roles. Like Cook, Martin began hosting duties at CMT in 2001.
Tara McNamara, new to the network, replaces Martin as host of CMT’s weekly video show, Big Ticket. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia and recently worked as a radio and TV personality in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.