NewsChannel 5 Anchor Ashleigh Walters traveled to New York City to sit down with TODAY Show anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie in the Rockefeller Plaza studio.
NEW YORK -- There are rare times; those who report the news become the news.
Kotb and Savannah are the TODAY Show’s first two-female anchor team. It is a flurry of activity behind the scenes as the perfectly-polished live program hits the air. Even as Walters sat with the pair, fans were waving through the glass windows on the Plaza.
“It’s like tunnel vision,” Guthrie laughed.
WPTV’s audience has the highest ratings for the show of any market viewership in the country. Perhaps the appeal is the “family-like” feeling the anchors say they experienced since the start.
“It feels effortless because it is, and we've known each other for a long time,” Guthrie said.
Kotb added, “We really get to sit with people we enjoy. Like I know they say if you could eat lunch with three people who would they be, well, I feel lucky, I look around and think why don't we just have lunch.”
When news of
Matt Lauer’s firing
came to light, the hosts talked about finding hope in the darkness.
“I think it's no secret that was a really hard time for us and it is a hard time and I think we are just trying to move through it and navigate it as honorably as we can, being as sincere as we can. And as hard as that has been it is special that something so wonderfully has come from it,” Guthrie said.
Kotb said, “We did go through that hard time and Savannah and I often talk about our hearts go out to the women who reported all of this. And it is a tricky mix of things isn't it to try to make it through all of that stuff.”
This time is historic behind the scenes as well. For the first time, a female executive producer leads the show. At a time when the voice of the female is in headlines in a host of ways, the co-hosts say the female presence on their show is important but simultaneously inconsequential.
Guthrie explained, “Of course it matters. We’ve always really had a strong female presence on this show so its funny because it feels so natural to us and I think the fact that we're working together and Hoda got this job is a function of a fact that she fits and she is a great journalist and a great broadcaster who brings so much to the job. And yes she's a woman so it all kind of came together so she's the exact right person for the job she's also a woman it matches this moment in our culture and I think that’s really cool and I’m glad that we have a lot of diverse perspectives.”
Behind the scenes, the pair says they wake up at 4 a.m. and they’re greeted at the door by a team of professionals who make their transition to the air seamless.
“We are lucky on this show because they have a hair, makeup and wardrobe department, that performs a miracle every single day,” Guthrie joked. She says she recently came to the set with wet hair, and a shirt inside-out showing signs of her baby at home.
“They do hocus-pocus so we are lucky they do that and then I think we both try to read in on the news and producers brief us and we try to be like ready to go with bells on at 7,” Kotb said.
The hope for each viewer is present in their delivery.
“I hope they’re informed, and I hope they leave with a smile,” Guthrie said.
“Yes, we hope their load is lightened a little because the world can be a heavy place. And we want to make sure that when they step out the door in the morning they know what is happening but they feel hopeful and optimistic and I think that’s what we want, Kotb said.
Walters made sure to invite the pair for some warm weather in Florida the next time New York is in a deep freeze.
“We love West Palm Beach!” the two exclaimed.
TODAY airs at 7 a.m. weekdays on WPTV NewsChannel 5.