TV anchor Zemba Wants to Create Relaxed Mood for Sunday Morning Viewers; Veteran Anchorwoman Now Heads TBS’s ‘Sunday Morning’ Show

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takako Zemba

Since this spring, newscaster Takako Zemba has become the face of TBS’s news show “Sunday Morning.” As the second host of the 8 a.m. Sunday morning production, she is trying hard to attract a multigenerational audience for the long-running show.

“Sunday Morning,” which began in 1987 and is now in its 37th year, covers weekly news with guest panelists discussing the week’s events. A popular segment of the show is “Katsu! Appare!” in which sports commentators rate athletes’ performances with “Try harder!” or “Good job!” Another popular feature of the show is explaining the news via handmade boards and models.

“The show fits perfectly with Sunday mornings. I don’t want to drastically change the feel of it, but instead respect the established quality of the program,” Zemba said. “As I have continued doing this show, I have come to realize that I’ve taken over a truly great job.”

Former emcee Hiroshi Sekiguchi, who hosted the show since it started, had earned viewers’ trust with his steady and sometimes witty delivery.

“Thinking in a cool-headed, rational way, I feel that it’s a big deal to take over the role of a mogul who has paved the way for the TV industry,” Zemba said. “But there was no negative pressure. I had a kind of so-what attitude and thought, ‘There’s no way I can do the same things.’”

Instead of trying hard to imitate Sekiguchi, who performed as if he was the editor-in-chief, Zemba searches for her own style by going out into the field to cover news or taking on the role of narrator.

“I’m the type of person who can’t say anything in the studio unless I go out to the field,” she said. “My approach is different from what the show used to do. But I ask [program staff] to let me go out to the field as much as possible.”

With her wealth of experience in the news field, Zemba is eager to “broaden [the show’s] subjects in the future to social welfare, education, child rearing and other areas of my interest.”

Born on Feb. 28, 1975, Zemba joined NHK as an announcer in 1997 and anchored “Project X” and emceed “Kohaku Utagassen” (“Red & White Year-end Song Festival”) for the red team. After leaving NHK in 2006, she appeared on TBS’s “News23” and “Hodo Tokushu (News special).”

Zemba was an anchor for “Hodo Tokushu,” until March and recalled, “I had a sense of responsibility to be aware of the issues [I was covering]. Conveying the news as quickly as possible was my utmost.

“But now, I’ve shifted into a different mode. Although I will keep conveying what needs to be reported, I want people to watch our show in a relaxed mood.”

The following are excerpts from an interview with Zemba.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: How do you rate yourself? “Good job!” or “Try harder!”?

Takako Zemba: I have become a morning person since I started this show, so I think that’s a “Try harder!” I used to be a night person and had a wonderful time after my family went to bed.

Yomiuri: How do you relax?

Zemba: I may not need that much of a break. But, since I work on weekends, I try hard to make time to go out and play with my elementary school age child. That helps to refresh myself.