Rising continuously and shining through Channel Eye’s Rise and Shine turns 9 today! | Sunday Observer

Rising continuously and shining through Channel Eye’s Rise and Shine turns 9 today!

The first team of Rise and Shine celebrating the 100th edition of the show. [From Left] Dilani Ayesha, Achala Solomons, Subhashana Gamage, Kishan Jayathunge, Sunanda Hettiarachchi,  Sanjeewa Batuwatta, Dulanka Thennakoon.
The first team of Rise and Shine celebrating the 100th edition of the show. [From Left] Dilani Ayesha, Achala Solomons, Subhashana Gamage, Kishan Jayathunge, Sunanda Hettiarachchi, Sanjeewa Batuwatta, Dulanka Thennakoon.

On this day nine years ago, on December 1, 2010, one of Sri Lanka’s most loved morning shows ‘arose’ to entertain, inform and educate television viewers across the country. Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) aired its very first telecast of ‘Rise and Shine’ on their English medium channel ‘Channel Eye’, nine years ago today, and has on this Sunday telecast the 3,226th edition of the show. This insight about the inception and the story behind one of Sri Lanka’s premier ‘morning shows’ was related to me by the Director of Programs at Channel Eye, Mrs. Sunanda Hettiarachchi when I met her and some of her team members recently at the SLRC.

Rise and Shine runs on a practically perennial telecast schedule excluding a few special religious and culturally significant days such as the Nallur festival day in Jaffna and the Sinhala and Hindu New Year when Channel Eye frequency is given over to their Tamil medium sister channel, Nethra.

The Director of Programming at Channel Eye said the challenge to start a morning show, or a ‘breakfast show’ was given to her by former chairman of SLRC Sarath Kongahage during his chairmanship. “He saw the void and had a vision to realise a much needed morning show for our viewers.” That had been the inception of what paved the path for Rise and Shine, said Sunanda who admitted that the former chairman himself wondered how good a response would be received from viewers. But the answer was self evident after the first edition of Rise and Shine. “The response we got was very good, our viewers really appreciated this show,” said Sunanda. At the launch of the show the producer had been Sanjeewa Batuwatta. Sunanda had been given complete freedom to assemble a team that could work in English to make the mission for a daily breakfast show a reality. “I must say there was absolutely no interference from the top management,” explained Sunanda.

The students following the diploma course offered by SLRC had been a valuable source in this regard. Sunanda held interviews and carried out the recruitment process. Thus the first batch of producers for Channel Eye came into being, comprising Achala Solomons, Subashana Gamage, Dulanka Tennekoon, Dilani Ayesha and Kishan Jayatunga. From among them Ayesha and Jayatunga have left SLRC and in 2011 Niroshi Abyesinghe joined the team and Shalika Perera in 2015. The team has three Assistant Producers –Aroosh Balalle, Dulanjali Abeykoon, and Madusha Jayasooriya.

Over the course of its nine years, Rise and Shine, has been developed with content to consistently cover a variety of themes and topics across the week. The guests featured on the show bring the viewers’ perspectives from a point of expertise and experience.

Sunanda explained how the show has got responses from various quarters and that foreign diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka have sought airtime on Rise and Shine to share news about their projects which are of importance to viewers. The show has become a platform sought by many artistes and professionals alike because of the wide viewership built up over the years.

Rise and Shine which has won several accolades at numerous television and media awards festivals has also been instrumental in introducing to the field of TV mass media new talent such as English broadcasters or presenters.

When I asked Sunanda if Channel Eye has any ideas of producing shows to help develop English language skills among viewers from an educational vantage, she said it is in the pipeline in consultation with the Ministry of Education. “Television is a good platform to deliver language education,” Sunanda said, adding that for Sri Lanka to move ahead with better English language skills for all, TV should be utilised. “It is the language that can bridge all communities,” she said.

Looking back at the past nine years, through which she and her team have come a long way, Sunanda says she is thankful to everyone from top to bottom, at SLRC and the Channel Eye team, which she says is ‘a family’, for having made this journey a fruitful one which bears the promise of growing from strength to strength.

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