Hoda Kotb of the ‘Today Show’: How These 4 Words Helped Her Lobby For the 4th Hour Co-Hosting Gig
It’s hard to imagine the Today Show without Hoda Kotb. Now co-anchor with Savannah Guthrie, the former Dateline correspondent had her eye on the morning news program when she heard they were creating a fourth hour in 2007. Kotb rarely made waves at NBC, but decided to throw her hat in the ring for a seat at the Today news desk.
Hoda Kotb wanted the ‘Today Show’ job
Kotb had been on Dateline since 1998 when the opportunity for Today Show’s fourth hour came around. Usually flying under the radar, Kotb decided she needed to try a different tack in her career.
“There are employees who wait to be noticed,” Kotb wrote in her 2010 book Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee. “I used to. I figured if I did my job well at Dateline, my bosses would see and I would be rewarded. I never asked for a promotion. Maybe I was afraid to ask. Afraid to be rejected. But things change.”
After battling breast cancer in February 2007, Kotb felt a new sense of bravery and decided to use that strength to go after the Today job. She had a mantra that helped empower her in tackling new challenges.
“After my cancer surgery, the New Me was fearless,” Kotb shared. “I had survived cancer and I was armed with my four wonderful words: You can’t scare me. Suddenly talking to my bosses about a possible promotion seemed so small, so nothing. I wanted to be considered for the new fourth hour of the Today Show. And I was going to say it out loud.”
Hoda Kotb lobbied for ‘Today Show’ co-host role
Making the rounds to NBC execs to petition for the co-anchor job, Kotb described her meeting with then-CEO of NBC Jeff Zucker.
“I told him about the New Me – the four words, the fearless thing,” she said. “I told him I wanted to host the new hour of the Today Show – I told him why I would be good, what I brought to the table. I just needed a shot. … I headed down to the third floor of 30 Rock and met with Steve Capus, [former] president of the News Division. … I was not afraid, not nervous. … I did it! I asked for it.”
Kotb continued to work on Dateline while waiting for an answer. She was soon approached by Amy Rosenblum, a producer brought on to make some improvements on Today. Rosenblum gave Kotb an idea of why NBC brass wasn’t jumping at her request for the co-hosting gig.
“Amy walked up to me and said, ‘They think you’re boring. … Be the girl you are in my office.'”
‘Today Show’ co-host Hoda Kotb now heads several hours of the show
The journalist was taken aback by Rosenblum’s statement, yet she was able to learn something from it. Though she was a hard-hitting news person on Dateline and previously subbed as co-host on Today, Kotb was continually playing it “safe.”
“I would never have guessed that was the ‘knock’ on me,” she wrote. “I always felt like I was being safe, following the rules, getting it right. … In my defense, I guess I was trying to navigate between what I know now as serious Dateline Hoda and fun Today Show Hoda. The compromise, though, was safe Hoda. (And apparently, boring Hoda.)”
Rosenblum saw Kotb’s talent and pushed for her to get the co-hosting role. Soon, Kotb was given the good news.
“In her office, Amy saw someone who could handle the new fourth hour,” Kotb recalled. “She wanted me to see it, and she wanted others to see it, too. … I called Amy to let her know the news. Her response was hilarious – a mix of happiness, sarcasm, and pride: ‘You were wandering the halls of NBC for nine years before I came along.'”