Welcome to the first entry in my first blog! I thought we’d talk about Katie Couric, who made history by becoming the first woman to be named solo anchor of a network evening newscast.
I had the chance to meet with Katie last month when I went to New York with Denise D’Ascenzo, news director Gary Brown and assistant news director Dana Neves.
As you might imagine, walking through the halls of CBS was pretty inspiring. The corridors are adorned with pictures of CBS legends Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and many others. It reminded me a little bit of Broadcast House, in that it is an old building but full of history in every nook and cranny.
Gary and Dana had meetings with CBS managers which left Denise and me sitting in a room with a pile of sandwiches and a giant bowl of pasta salad that looked like it had been out for hours. That was our cue. Armed with our security badges, we decided to go for a self guided tour of west 57th.
We sheepishly veered down hallways until we stumbled upon props for the soap opera “the Guiding Light.” We saw boxes marked “Japanese restaurant,” “church rug,” chandeliers and some fake plants. We walked into the newsroom of WCBS looking for former Channel 3 anchor Brendan Keefe, who wasn’t in. Then it was on to the offices of the Early Show, looking for anchor Tracy Smith, whom we met when she and her husband came to Hartford earlier in the summer. She, too was “out of the building.”
Later we befriended a CBS page who enhanced our tour by taking us by the new set carpenters were building for the CBS Evening News. We passed by Andy Rooney’s office, but no sign of the 60 Minutes curmudgeon.
Finally, it was our turn to talk to Katie. She talked about being a role model for young girls, as well as boys, and about the unpredictable future of the internet. We talked about anchor chemistry, and she compared the chemistry and friendship Denise and I enjoy to the one she had with her former Today show host Matt Lauer.
But the highlight of the interview, came before the cameras started rolling. Denise had a small thread that had pulled from her jacket, that Katie instantly noticed as we got the standby. Katie tried unsuccessfully to pull that aqua thread out, and mat it down. “Does anyone have any scissors,” Katie asked from her chair. No response. “Surely, someone must have a pair of scissors so we can fix this,” she queried. A staffer promptly approached the set with a Swiss Army contraption that included scissors. Katie clipped that thread and the interview was on. I told her “she had gone from managing editor to managing seamstress.”
I can’t say enough how much Denise and I enjoyed Katie’s company. She was warm, affable, and we both felt a connection to us. Katie Couric is the real deal. What you see on television is what you get in person. When we posed for pictures she cracked jokes and asked questions about us, and our station. We were the last of more than a dozen interviews she had done that day, but she never let her exhaustion show.
Viewers in Connecticut have responded to the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” in huge numbers. Every day she has been on, Katie has beaten her evening news competitors on NBC and ABC.
I’d love to read what you think.