The two have co-hosted Live with Kelly and Ryan since the American Idol host joined the show in 2017

By Ally Mauch
March 05, 2020 01:24 PM

Before they begin their talk show each weekday, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest stick to a very specific morning routine — and it involves strictly no face-to-face contact.

“We’re almost religious about the way we conduct our morning routine,” Ripa, 49, told PEOPLE at an event at the Paley Center for Media in New York City on Wednesday, PaleyLive: An Evening with Kelly and Ryan.

“The short version is we don’t connect with each other until 60 seconds before we’re going on the air,” Seacrest explained. “I scream to her in the dressing room, ‘Morning! Hi, Ripa.'”

Though they don’t set eyes on one another before walking on set, Ripa said they do “text each other all night long.”

Credit: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Courtesy The Paley Center for Media

Seacrest, 45, joined Ripa’s Live in 2017 after her former co-host Michael Strahan left the show — and he still looks back on their first day on-air together as one of his “favorite moments.”

“When Kelly walked out my first day, I was backstage with butterflies and had never been announced being the co-host,” he recalled on Wednesday. “And I just — it was a new chapter for the show, but certainly for my life in New York City, and I’ll never forget that feeling. I’ll never forget the night before when we knew but couldn’t tell anybody I was coming.”

“We were literally vibrating and almost crying for several hours together,” Ripa added. “It was scary and it was the closest we will ever get to being double agents, right? It was really nerve-wracking.”

And their chemistry hasn’t worn off.

“Everything Ryan does makes me laugh,” Ripa said. “All he has to do is show up and sit down. He just has a very easygoing nature and he’s a gifted storyteller.”

“I think that Ryan makes us all better because he is so professional,” she added. “He really does keep it tight. It’s a tight show and he adds so much with that level of expectation that it has literally made the entire team rise up and want to say, ‘Oh, that’s right. People are watching this show.'”

Seacrest, for his part, said he’s “happy to contribute.”

“I think, you know, working with Kelly and having [guests] come on, and maybe they’ve come on before, and seeing how excited they are to come back to the show because of what she’s been able to build there makes it really special,” he said. “The guests are happy and comfortable on our show. They’re not nervous. They’re not worried about anything. And that’s by design. And I think that she’s created that atmosphere and I like being part of that.”

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Speaking to PEOPLE in 2017 after Seacrest was announced as her new co-host, Ripa said she chose the American Idol host because they already had such a good relationship.

“It had to be somebody we would all want to hang out with — and not just on camera,” she said. “Because we all do hang out together when we’re not on-camera. That’s an important thing.”

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

Credit: Charles Sykes/Getty Images

The two are currently working on an ABC comedy pilot, titled Work Wife, inspired by their onscreen rapport. It’s being written by The Real O’Neals co-creators Casey Johnson and David Windsor, whose professional partnership also served as the inspiration for the pilot. Todd Holland is set to direct.

Work Wife will tell “the story of a platonic male/female team whose professional success, personal friendship and ability to share deodorant makes their lives work,” according to the official logline.