In a defiant speech that earned a standing ovation, she assured fans that Live! "is a priority" for the network (despite speculation that it might be on the chopping block in a move to bolster GMA). She also noted that she's "earned the right" to take some time away from the transitional drama to gather her thoughts. She concluded that she's "thrilled" for Strahan, who, for his part, called her the "queen of morning television."
Read Ripa's full remarks, and Strahan's own on-air response, below.
Ripa, 45, began with a self-deprecating quip: "Guys, guys guys, guys, our long national nightmare is over."
She continued, "Look I am fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message."
"First off, I want to honestly and sincerely thank you all for welcoming me back to the show. The love and show of support to this bizarre time has been very overwhelming."
"I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts," she acknowledged. "After 26 years with this company I earned the right. And let's be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other."
"In that time I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart so I didn't want to come out here and say something I regret. So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary. In a sense that it started a greater conversation about communication, consideration and, most importantly, respect in workplace. And since we're being honest, I don't consider this just a workplace, this is my second home. This is a place that I devoted myself to, not just because of you our loyal viewers, but because of all of the producers and the crew who work on this show. We have an incredible team and we are devoted to one another. We are family."
"Apologies have been made, and the best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that Live! is a priority. There is a commitment to this show and the people that work here and, most importantly, to you the viewers who have watched us for years."
"I am thrilled for Michael. I am thrilled for you," she said, looking at Strahan, 44. "This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn't be and we couldn't be more prouder of you and everything we've accomplished together."
"So back to the show, this is entertainment. It's supposed to be entertaining, so let's get back to what we do best and start the show," she said, before adding, "Oh, wait, I want to say one thing. My dad who was a bus driver for 30 years thinks we are all crazy. And I think he's right."
Once Ripa took her seat, Strahan responded, "I'm so happy you're back. And one thing I know about you is, you love this show. You love the fans. You love this staff. I love you. And I am so happy that you're here because you brought me here with [producer Michael] Gelman. And this show has been transforming for me. And I know this show will live on because you are the queen of morning television. And I'm right down the street. You need me, I'm coming back to help out."
Live! With Kelly and Michael airs weekdays (check local listings).