May 04, 2017 09:00 AM


When it came to choosing a new Live co-host, Kelly Ripa had some very specific criteria.

“It had to be somebody we would all want to hang out with — and not just on camera,” Ripa, 46, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “Because we all do hang out together when we’re not on-camera. That’s an important thing.”

Ripa spent a year trying out 67 potential guest hosts, including Ryan Seacrest, before announcing the former American Idol host got the gig during Monday’s show.

Jake Chessum

One activity the duo already enjoys doing together is staying fit: “We really do work out together,” says Ripa.

And while the pair have been close friends for years, now that Seacrest, 42, is her official “TV husband,” Ripa can’t stop gushing over him.

  • For more on Kelly and Ryan, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

“He is just so professional and kind to everyone — and it’s not just ‘on-camera kind,’ ” she says. “He doesn’t turn it on and off. He’s kind backstage, and he’s kind first thing in the morning.”

“He calls everyone by name,” she adds. “He’s just a nice guy. That’s what I envisioned we would have with the new host.”

Live with Kelly & Ryan airs weekdays (check local listings).

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