Ask BA

September 10, 2012

The Today Show Reset

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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Hey BA:

I used to watch The Today Show everyday. Loved it. But, now that Ann is gone and I think Matt had something to do with it, I won’t watch anymore. I tried GMA and I’m hooked – it’s so much better and I never knew! But, I read your recent post about the brouhaha and you said Today won’t be able to recover until they recast. How do you think they should recast?

So MR:

I’m glad you asked, I do have some thoughts about what they should do. 🙂

First, continuity can’t be critical – They have to replace both co-hosts. But, Today is big money, so, it would be worth their while to move one of their most tenured and associated faces with NBC News into the co-host spot. Lester Holt is perfect…

Then begins the chess match of filling the holes Lester would leave behind: Today weekend, NBC Nightly News weekend and Dateline.

So, they make the co-host team Lester Holt and Natalie Morales. They would fit together well. Al Roker is fine as-is, so, leave him alone, but, pluck a news reader from an O + O who has good potential. A gratuitous blonde will do…

Move Matt Lauer to Dateline. They just signed him to a new stupid large contract, so, they can’t just dump him – they gotta make him do something. I’ve seen him do Nightly News before and hope not to have to see that again… And send Savannah Guthrie back to The White House where she belongs – let her thrive as Chief Legal Correspondent… Poor girl’s just caught in the middle of this mess.

Make Harry Smith weekend anchor for Nightly News. Perfect fit with his role on Rock Center. And the final hole to fill is Today weekend. This is where NBC News starts the rebuilding. Find some new, fresh faces from the owned and operated stations across the country and let them blow up to rock star status. Start the succession planning all over again and this time, stick with it. (Ann Curry dig)

Then change the show blocks as previously noted – First 2 hours: Lester, Natalie, Al + new news reader… Second 2 hours: Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and REGIS PHILBIN.

How ‘bout we pretend I make all the decision at NBC News. (which would be a vast improvement) My organizational announcement letter to the staff would sound something like this:


Here at NBC News, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the number one morning show on network television for the past 20 years. The Today Show is our jewel and in an effort to maintain our position as number one, we will be making some changes.

First, Lester Holt and Natalie Morales will be the new co-hosts of The Today Show. Lester is one of our most trusted NBC News anchors and Natalie will give the show some needed continuity. And they make a great team! Lester and Natalie will be joined by Al Roker and our most fun blonde correspondent from MSNBC.

Harry Smith will become weekend anchor for NBC Nightly News and continue his exciting work on Rock Center. Harry’s experience as a news anchor is invaluable and we look forward to having him serve as back up for Brian Williams on both programs.

We recognize that Savannah Guthrie is invaluable in the role of Chief Legal Correspondent and White House Correspondent. She will return to those assignments and her chair next to Chuck Todd on MSNBC.

Matt Lauer will become anchor for Dateline. Matt has been a staple of the Today Show team for the entire 20 years at number one and now, we want to let him sleep in! Congratulations Matt!

And finally, we will be making a concerted effort to continue our great standard of succession planning by hand-picking a co-host team from our O+O’s across the country for the weekend edition of Today. This is our opportunity to find a new team of fresh, bright talent to grow into the Today Show brand.

These changes will be effective with the new year, when we debut the new 2+2 format with Lester, Natalie, Al and Blondie for the first 2 hours of Today and Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin blowing up the second 2 hours.

It’s an exciting time at NBC News and The Today Show… Please help me wish our team well as we move forward into this new adventure!


Billy Abshaw
Chief Talent Acquisition Clarivoyant

P.S. See if they can beat that… BA