As a cohost of the “Today” show for 15 years and then anchor of the CBS Evening News for five, Katie Couric has entertained and informed viewers in the morning and at night. Now, the veteran broadcast journalist is hoping to seize another daypart: the afternoon. Starting Monday Couric’s new daily talk show “Katie” will air at 3 p.m. on Channel 5.
The show will cover expected daytime topics, from relationships to family, as well as feature celebrity guests and everyday people related to the topics of the day. There will also be recurring segments including a
“YOLO” (You Only Live Once) segment in which Couric and her viewers will tackle items on their bucket lists.
In the first few weeks Couric will welcome Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez, and Sheryl Crow, who wrote the show’s theme song, which asks the musical question, “Are you ready for this day?”
We caught up with Couric when she was in town last week to visit with the folks at WCVB to ask her if she was ready. “I am,” she said with a laugh. “I’m excited. It’s been over a year of preparing for this show, so I’m just ready to get started.”
Q. Unlike some of your competitors who are also launching this year you’ve decided to broadcast live.
A. We want to have the flexibility of being very topical if necessary. But I don’t think that’s going to be the heart and soul of our show, the headlines of the day. It’s really taking issues in the zeitgeist and exploring them. One of my frustrations in working in news all these years is that some of these topics feel so ephemeral because they’re dealt with that day and then they’re rarely revisited, even though the issue didn’t go away. And so I think one of the things I’m excited about is to be able to say, “This is still an important topic, so let’s talk about it.”
Q. You’ve said you’re excited to flex different muscles. Is there something in particular you’re looking forward to doing? Singing perhaps?
A. No [laughs]. I am a ham but I’m not that kind of performer where I’m going to belt out a showtune.
Q. But you have said that one of your “YOLO”/bucket list items is to perform with a Broadway show. Is there a specific one you’d like to try?
A. I think there is one in the works. No, I’m not going to be Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked,” although I think I would do a helluva job on “Popular” [laughs]. You know the whole “YOLO” thing was an opportunity for me to have some fun and do some things that I hope viewers can live vicariously through me a little. But more importantly they’re really a launching pad for us to try to make some “YOLO”s happen for people who don’t have the access or contacts or opportunities that we do, which is one of the great privileges of having this job. I just feel so lucky, honestly, that I’ve had so many incredible experiences in my career and I feel like it’s time to pay it forward a little bit. And it’s also good television to brighten someone’s day.
Q. Is it fun to be on the same team now with peers like Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters?
A. Yeah, it’s nice to be in a place that obviously supports and celebrates strong women because that’s not always the case. I think ABC is really a network that does really appreciate strong female journalists.
Q. Like any job, I’m sure there were positives and negatives to your time as the anchor at CBS Evening News. Do you feel like you got what you wanted out of that job?
A. Yeah, I’m really proud of the work I did there. It was a great life experience for me as well, an opportunity for a lot of personal growth. I think [overall] it was a positive experience for me. I think the show that I was brought in to do never came to fruition. It was really CBS’s desire to retool and make the evening newscast less formulaic, but I think probably it’s one of those longstanding formats that people feel comfortable with and maybe weren’t as willing to have it retooled. On this show I feel like I am able to create my own palette, if you will. I like to be very innovative and I think CBS puts more of a premium on tradition.
Q. As for the other shows launching this season — Steve Harvey, Ricki Lake, and Jeff Probst — do you view them as competition?
A. Of course! I’m so focused on making what I hope is a high quality, interesting, engaging show that I’m not really focused on what everybody else is doing. I also think what we’re trying to do is a little different, so as a result I feel like everybody’s got their own direction. Steve Harvey, I saw his premiere, and I think he’s great, but it’s a little more about relationship advice and humor. And I’m not funny. I’m a little funny, but not really that funny [laughs]. I think Ricki Lake is great. I have a lot of admiration for her. I voted for her on “Dancing With the Stars” [laughs]. I thought she was amazing! I thought she should have won, actually. She was robbed! And Jeff Probst seems like a really nice guy. I’m not quite sure what he’s going to be doing, but it will be interesting and fun. Listen, I think there’s room for everybody. There are a lot of hours on television and the more people filling it with quality stuff, the better it is for everyone.