What Kelly Ripa Learned from Regis Philbin – and How She'll Use Those Lessons to Move Forward

Kelly Ripa looks back at her early days at Live with Regis Philbin for strength

Kelly Ripa is opening up in this exclusive interview on how she really feels about Michael Strahan’s departure from Live – and what’s next for her. Subscribe now for her side of the story, only in PEOPLE!

Kelly Ripa has spent nearly two decades co-hosting Live – 10 of those in the seat next to founding co-host Regis Philbin.

Now, in the wake of Michael Strahan‘s departure from the show, Ripa is finding a path forward by looking back on the lessons she learned from Philbin, who died on July 24.

“I just remember when Regis left it was so scary,” Ripa told PEOPLE. “Because we – meaning me – had never done this before. Regis had done it many times, and he was so good at it.”

“It makes you terrified,” Ripa continued. “Like can I do this without Regis being here?”

Ripa said that the structure of the show helps her move forward. “You realize you just settle into a rhythm. We just keep doing it one show at a time. We always try to remind ourselves it’s never as good as we think it is and it’s never as bad as we think it is. We just keep marching forward.”

“That’s what we’ve done for years,” Ripa said. “It’s not a formula I invented. This is a formula that Regis created, and we’re sticking to it.”

The “formula,” in Ripa’s eyes, includes having a “mom and dad” at the helm of the show. “I like having a partner,” Ripa told PEOPLE, shooting down rumors of a prolonged Live with Kelly season. “I don’t think it works otherwise. I wouldn’t want to do that show. I need someone sitting next to me.”

Ripa may not want to do the solo show because her introduction to the show started as a fan.

“I really understand the show from the audience standpoint,” she told PEOPLE. “Regis and Kathie Lee were my life. When I came to New York and moved into my little dressing room at All My Children, they were my best friends.”

To read the full interview with Kelly Ripa, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Despite her four years with Strahan, Ripa’s ability to develop an instant rapport with guest co-host remains sharp.

“Because we both have vacation time, you never really lose your co-hosting chops with other people,” Ripa said. “It’s a fun show. It’s not supposed to be draining on any level. We want people that are there, that are fun, that are willing to have fun. That’s the whole show in a nutshell.”

Before Ryan Seacrest officially joined as co-host in 2017, several interim co-hosts, including Jimmy Kimmel and World News Tonight anchor David Muir, filled in.

“People love co-host searches,” she gushed. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s this mentality where people will still come up to me and say, ‘I voted for you, you know? I voted for you!’ ”

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

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