AM America was a morning news program produced by ABC in an attempt to compete with the highly rated Today on NBC. The show never found an audience after its premiere on January 6, 1975. Lasting just under ten months, its final installment aired on October 31.
The program's concept was based on Ralph Story's AM, the local morning show on the network's owned-and-operated Los Angeles station KABC-TV. Like Today, AM America employed two hosts and a news anchor. ABC chose Bill Beutel, who was co-anchor of Eyewitness News on the network's New York City flagship station WABC-TV, and Stephanie Edwards from Ralph Story's AM to host the program. Peter Jennings, who at the time was ABC's Washington correspondent, provided the news reports.
One notable episode of AM America aired on April 25, 1975, when members of the British comedy troupe Monty Python (with the exception of John Cleese, who had temporarily left the group) made one of their earliest appearances on American television.
Edwards quit the show by the end of May, and Beutel followed her out a few months later. On November 3, the Monday following its final broadcast, it was replaced with a more well-known, more successful effort, Good Morning America.
The logo for AM America had the letters A and M colored in blue while the rest of the word "America" was colored in red. The "AM" overlapped with "America". Also, a star was placed inside the "A".
The AM (city name) name was franchised to ABC stations across the United States, for locally produced morning talk programs (which generally aired during the 9 a.m. hour, after the national program ended). AM Los Angeles, the successor to Ralph Story's AM, featured Regis Philbin and Sarah Purcell. Purcell was replaced by Cyndy Garvey in 1978, and the show moved to New York City in 1983 (where it replaced AM New York), eventually evolving into the current Live! with Kelly and Michael. WLS-TV's AM Chicago, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, evolved into The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. AM Buffalo, which replaced a Dialing for Dollars franchise on WKBW-TV, also remains on air. Additionally, KATU in Portland has aired AM Northwest since the debut of AM America. There also was a short lived AM Northwest program on Seattle's KOMO (sister station to KATU) in either the 1980s or 1990s. The KATU and KOMO versions had different hosts and guests, but the debut broadcast on KOMO included on air interaction with the hosts at AM Northwest in Portland.