Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There is no tomorrow at NBC for “Today” host and Arlington native Katie Couric as she ends her 15-year stint as anchor of the show this morning.

After a few months out of the limelight, Miss Couric will take over the anchor desk of the “CBS Evening News” in September. Her much ballyhooed ascension to become the first female solo anchor in network evening news history included a brief stint at WRC-TV (Channel 4) where she was known for solid reporting, and for being the same person on and off camera.

“She was an engaging, interested, interesting person,” said morning anchor Joe Krebs, who has worked at the local NBC station since 1980. “She is the same person on TV that she is off TV. That is part of her appeal and, at core, the secret of her success. I think it’s her authenticity that really connects with people.”

She worked as a general assignment reporter at WRC from 1987 to 1989 when she was known as Katherine Couric.

She left WRC in 1989 to join NBC News as deputy Pentagon correspondent, joined “Today” in June 1990 as its first national correspondent, and had been co-anchor since April 5, 1991.

While her fame has grown, and hairstyles and fashion have changed based on some clips being aired as part of WRC’s “Goodbye Katie” segments, her dedication to stories has been steadfast, Mr. Krebs said.

He has seen dozens of reporters come through the station in his 26 years there and generally does not assess where people might go, but Mr. Krebs said Miss Couric “clearly had all the tools [and] I was not surprised that she was able to do it all.”

“She wanted to do her stories well. As efficiently, accurately and seriously as she could,” he added.

Mr. Krebs would not speculate on his former colleague’s potential success at rival CBS, but he did say Miss Couric was not going to rest on her laurels.

“She’s not going over there to ride some glory train,” he said.

Viewers will decide whether a former anchor of “Today” means a bright tomorrow for the evening news at CBS.

O&A coming back

Shock jocks Opie and Anthony, whose show could be heard on CBS Radio’s WJFK-FM (106.7) until being canceled by the parent company in the summer of 2002 after an indecent on-air stunt, will soon be returning to the station.

Internet speculation about a local return has raged since last month when a censored version of New York-based O&A’s satellite radio show rejoined other CBS Radio stations. We hear that a formal announcement will be made today and that the duo will be heard in middays, a time that has suffered in the ratings since Howard Stern’s departure for Sirius Satellite Radio forced WJFK to juggle its lineup.

Ironically, “The Opie & Anthony Show,” now based at XM Satellite Radio, has filled Mr. Stern’s former morning slot at CBS Radio stations in numerous markets. A censored, three-hour version of their show airs starting at 6 a.m. on CBS affiliates in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Dallas and West Palm Beach, Fla., and continues uncensored on XM until 11 a.m.

Michael Hughes, general manager of CBS Radio in Washington, refused to comment yesterday.

But after the recent Arbitron Inc. ratings, he acknowledged that the station had “work to do in middays” after the station dropped from 13th to 18th overall, and “The Don & Mike Show” in afternoon drive dropped from fifth to 15th.

WJFK’s current midday lineup consists of “The Peter Rosenberg Show” from 10 a.m. until noon, followed by two hours of Bill O’Reilly and an hour of Penn Jillette. Mr. Rosenberg appears the most likely to leave or be reassigned, and he did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Channel Surfing appears Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3173 or e-mail dcat@washingtontimes.com.

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