Katie Couric will leave the Today Show after 15 successful years – more than ten of them as number one in the ratings – to become the sole anchor and managing editor of what will become “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric”. She will be the first woman at any network to anchor the weekday evening newscast alone. Barbara Walters, Connie Chung and now Elizabeth Vargas have served as co-anchors with male counterparts, Chung at CBS and the others at ABC.
The announcement came Wednesday morning, exactly 15 years after Couric’s debut on the program, the longest tenure of any host in the program’s 54 years on NBC. “After listening to my heart and my gut – which have served me very well in the past few years” Couric announced – “I’ve decided that I will be leaving Today at the end of May.”
Couric’s five year contract, reportedly for between $13 to $15 million dollars a year, also includes prime-time specials and a role on 60 Minutes . She’ll take over the CBS anchor chair in September.
Although a solo woman evening news anchor is long overdue, the historic appointment , of course is not without its detractors. “I’m not enthusiastic about it.” 60 Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney told Don Imus, “I think everybody likes Katie Couric, I mean how can you not like Katie Couric. But, I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here…” Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal, delighted by the appointment, said, “Move over boys… little more gracefully please.”