Many NBC Affiliates Would Prefer Curry in New Role
Local partners hope 'Today' brand strong enough to withstand shakeup
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/27/2012 2:31:04 PM
And that has hurt Today -- and, by extension, the local NBC stations.
Curry was news anchor on Today from 1997 until stepping up to co-anchor in June 2011. Many affiliates believe she will best serve the network, and its partner stations, back in a hard-news capacity.
"She's such a great international reporter," says Dale Woods, president and general manager of WHO Des Moines. "If she's put back in that role, that feels great...if that's where it's going."
The NBC affiliates have heard nothing from the network about changes to frontline talent at the venerable franchise, and several station chiefs were reluctant to speak on the record, including affiliates board chairman Jordan Wertlieb, until things are official.
But several say the problems at Today, which has famously seen its lead over ABC's Good Morning America shrink in recent months, will continue until a change is made. They echo the oft-uttered charge that Curry and Matt Lauer lack chemistry, believe she does not successfully connect with female viewers, and say Curry is too rigid on the show's frilly bits.
"The thing we look for in television is chemistry, chemistry, chemistry," says one East Coast GM at an NBC station who asked to not be named. "I'm looking at Hoda and Kathie right now, and that's an incredibly good example. They obviously enjoy each other and finish each other's sentences. We just don't have that [with Matt and Ann]."
Curry's successor is a key hire, to say the least, for NBC News. Some general managers say the move can benefit NBC News in two ways: bring the spark back to the Today sofa, and reestablish Curry -- no stranger to global hotspots such as Darfur and the Congo -- as an authoritative voice on giant stories around the world.
"She's a tremendous talent," says Woods. "Any international thing that goes on, you can count on her to be there the next day."
Third-hour host Savannah Guthrie is said to have been offered the big job. Affiliates cite her intelligence and likeability. Pat Dalbey, president and general manager of WLEX Lexington, admits to a bit of bias, as he and Guthrie worked together at KMIZ Columbia (Mo.) early in her career.
"I think Savannah will be fine," he says. "She is very versatile and extremely smart and has a great personality that will wear well over time."
Others have reservations about Guthrie's relatively young age, which is 40. "There's no doubt she's talented, but I'm not sure she's the right fit when it comes to interviewing world leaders," says one Midwestern GM. "Matt can't do all of that."
To be sure, some NBC affiliates say their lead is so strong in mornings that they are unfazed by the drama at 30 Rock. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it, is how I see it," says one midsize-market GM.
Others express resounding confidence in NBC News president Steve Capus and Today executive producer Jim Bell to fix whatever needs fixing at Today. They sympathize with those men for having to handle such a sensitive issue with Curry, who is very popular within the news division.
"I have a lot of admiration for them," says Brooke Spectorsky, president and general manager at WKYC Cleveland. "However it works out, whatever the details, I'm sure it will be positive for everybody."
NBC affiliates take heart that the Today brand has been so strong for so long-and is much larger than any of its talent. "I trust NBC to do the right thing to protect the franchise," says Chris Mossman, vice president and general manager at WITN Greenville (N.C.). "They appear to be making adjustments while still on top."
FTA - "They obviously enjoy each other and finish each other's sentences. We just don't have that [with Matt and Ann]."
And finighing each other's sentences is good interaction?
Please, less fluff to have more time for "real" news and information. They still don't get it!
David Crossgrove - 6/29/2012 9:27:34 PM EDT
Eric - 6/27/2012 7:32:28 PM EDT
I like Ann Curry as co-host of Today... but it would seem that she isn't being given a chance. It would appear that NBC may be leaning more toward Savannah Guthrie in the lead co-host position, should Ann leave Today for a foreign correspondent position with NBC News. Meredith and Katie are unlikely to return to the long-running morning show. Hoda Kotb is another name that has emerged as a possible candidate, but with mixed reception. I would assume that Natalie Morales could be another candidate, but don't know if NBC is considering her or not.
Another idea I would be interested in seeing... NBC cutting Today back to its original 2-hour format. NBC bringing back that Later Today talk show... Kathie Lee and Hoda co-hosting with 3 or 4 different women, and the show be compared to The View and The Talk. NBC working on a new daytime game show with Regis Philbin as host. NBC keeping its last remaining soap Days of our Lives.
Ericy - 6/27/2012 7:29:24 PM EDT
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