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Emmy Award-winning news anchor Katie Couric helped turn NBC's morning news show "Today" (1951- ) into a ratings leader during her 15-year tenure, during which time she also made an impression as a contributor to a number of evening news programs and primetime news specials. Couric covered such historic events as the Gulf War, the Oklahoma City bombing, six Olympic Games, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in addition to interviewing more than half a dozen presidents and heads of state during her time at NBC. Intelligent and serious, but with a grinning, girl-next-door quality that prevented some detractors from accepting her as a legitimate news journalist, Couric nonetheless rose through the television ranks to become anchor of the "CBS Evening News" (CBS, 1948- ) in a move that made her the first solo female to helm a network news broadcast, earning her a much-publicized $15 million dollar salary. During her tenure at CBS, she also contributed reporting to "60 Minutes" (1968- ) and hosted several primetime specials. She also won the Edward R. Murrow Award in 2008 and 2009 for Best Newscast. In 2011, Couric announced that she would be leaving CBS when her contract was up, and she gave her last broadcast on May 19, 2011. She then joined ABC News, serving as a special correspondent, and hosted a syndicated daytime talk show, "Katie" (2012-14). At the end of 2013, she accepted a new position with Yahoo! as Global Anchor of Yahoo! News. She remained in this position until June 2017, stepping down after Verizon purchased Yahoo! and renamed it Oath. In January 2018, it was announced that Couric would be returning to NBC to co-host the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Katherine Anne Couric was born on Jan. 7, 1957, in Arlington, VA. Her father, John Couric, was a newspaper editor in Washington D.C., perhaps paving a career path for his daughter, who seemed likely to follow in his footsteps with her editorial work on the campus newspaper at the University of Virginia. She graduated with honors and a Bachelors degree in English in 1979 and immediately began her journalism career by landing a job as a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington, D.C. Moving on to Ted Turner's fledgling CNN in 1980, she rose through the news ranks from assignment editor to associate producer before eventually becoming an on-air political correspondent for the 1984 presidential election race.
After five years covering local news as a general assignment reporter for WTVJ in Miami and WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., Couric's career got a boost when she was invited to join NBC's national news team as deputy Pentagon correspondent in 1989. A year later, she became the national correspondent for "Today," where she also began to fill in as a co-anchor. When co-host Deborah Norville left the program in 1991, Couric settled permanently into the seat next to Bryant Gumbel. Her perky sensibility balanced out the morning news and lifestyle program and helped bring the sagging "Today" show back from Nielsen purgatory, after the ratings had dipped following the departure of longtime host Jane Pauley and arrival of her less-than-successful replacement, Norville. It seemed Couric was exactly what morning viewers were looking for to help them start their day.
A rapidly rising star on NBC news, Couric was soon tapped for frothy jobs like hosting the annual telecast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, but she was eventually given more prestigious responsibilities such as co-hosting the short-lived primetime news magazine "Now With Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric" (NBC, 1993-94). Couric subsequently became a contributing editor to another primetime news magazine, "Dateline NBC," (1992- ), and hosted news specials, including the hard-hitting "Everybody's Business: America's Children" (1995). Couric's celebrity was confirmed by cameo appearances as herself on other television programs such as "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1988-1998), "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006) and by the national attention given her first pregnancy in 1995.
With the departure of the sometimes cantankerous Gumbel, Matt Lauer joined "Today" in 1997, and he and Couric proved to be the show's most successful team yet, with a run of nine years atop the ratings heap. The following year, a peak number of viewers witnessed Couric's struggle as her husband, lawyer and NBC legal analyst Jay Monahan, battled colon cancer for eight months, eventually losing his life. Couric subsequently became an activist on behalf of the number two cancer-killer, launching the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) to fund new medical research and form educational programs aimed at prevention and early detection through proper screenings. She earned a Peabody Award for her segment series "Confronting Colon Cancer" and had an on-air colonoscopy, which prompted a 20 percent increase in the number of procedures - a stunt result that came to be known as "The Couric Effect."
Meanwhile, Couric continued earning well-deserved kudos for her work on "Today," especially her level-headed handling of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which occurred during the "Today" broadcast. In December 2001, Couric signed a new five-year contract with NBC worth $65 million, making her the highest paid television news personality at the time. Her re-upping with "Today" ensured that the yearly $300 million profits NBC had grown accustomed to would continue unabated. As she neared the end of that contract, rumors ran rampant that Couric might leave NBC to take over the anchor and managing editor chairs at CBS's evening news - a spot vacated by long-time newsman Dan Rather in 2004 and temporarily filled by journalist Bob Schieffer.
The rumors proved correct on April 5, 2006 - the 15th anniversary of her first day as host of "Today" - when Couric told her audience that she would step down from the program at the end of May to anchor the nightly news and also contribute to "60 Minutes" (1968- ). Some felt her "Today" stint - the longest in the show's history - was not suitable experience for such a coveted position. But her supporters quickly pointed to her extensive resume of covering major national events and interviewing presidents, world leaders and other major newsmakers.
Couric made her debut as host of "CBS Evening News" to much media fanfare on Sept. 5, 2006, when she became the first woman to solo anchor an evening newscast on a major network. In an attempt to breathe new life into the lagging news program, CBS tinkered with the show format to include longer feature interviews from Couric and more conversational asides. However, after an initial uptick in the ratings over the first few weeks, the program eventually went back to its pre-Couric low before sinking even further. Following a year and a half of low ratings, industry rumors began to circulate that cash-strapped CBS was looking to end Couric's $15 million dollar contract as early as the end of the 2008 election season.
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Worked as desk assistant at ABC News Bureau in Washington, DC
Became assignment editor for CNN
Worked as general assignment reporter for WTVJ in Miami, FL
Became deputy Pentagon reporter for NBC
Signed as the co-anchor for NBC's "Today"; hosted her first telecast of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Co-hosted NBC's morning coverage of the Summer Olympics from Barcelona, Spain
Co-hosted the primetime news magazine "Now With Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric"
Anchored the documentary "Everybody's Business: America's Children"
Signed four-year contract with NBC reportedly for a salary of $7 million per year (June)
Underwent an on-air colonoscopy to raise awareness for colon cancer
In December, renewed contract with NBC for four-and-one-half years in a deal reported to be worth in excess of $60 million
Guest starred as herself on the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace"
Feature film debut, playing a prison guard in "Austin Powers in Goldmember"
Traded places for a day with "Tonight Show" (NBC) host Jay Leno
Voiced the character Katie Current in animated feature "Shark Tale"
Made her debut as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" (Sept. 5)
Announced that she was moving to CBS to anchor the "CBS Evening News," which made her the first solo female anchor of any of the "big three" nightly news broadcasts; also contributed to "60 Minutes" and anchored primetime news specials for CBS
Announced she was leaving CBS Evening News after her contract expires
Signed multi-year deal with ABC to host and produce syndicated daytime talk show "Katie"