For millions of Americans, the conduct of their individual and family morning routines is ritually punctuated by the familiar faces of morning news talk shows. Not only has NBC’s Today show been one the most popular morning shows, but it is the progenitor and prototype of the morning news and talk genre on U.S. television.
Created by Sylvester “Pat” Weaver in 1952, Today is now the longest running television program on the air, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. At its beginning, television programming was not on the air in the morning hours. The Today show helped change that. In the show’s first broadcast, host Dave Garroway explained how the program would bring viewers news and information about music, art, science, sports, and “all fields of endeavor we think we’ll be able to inform you better about….”
The program is a product of the NBC news division and opens with a news update and includes additional news segments and newsmaker interviews interspersed throughout the show. It began as a two-hour broadcast but has grown into four-hours of content over the years. As a news show, the program also includes two local news breaks from NBC’s network affiliates.
The show’s popularity, however, is also derived from its lighter fare segments, including topics such as parenting, fashion and beauty, food and cooking, relationships, homemaking, health, travel, personal finance, celebrities, movie reviews, weather, and even musical performances from its studio location at Rockefeller Center in New York. The street side relocation of its studio in the mid-1990s allowed the program to incorporate tourist audiences as part of the viewing experience as a literal stand-ins for the home viewing audiences across the nation.
As audiences have incorporated the program into their family routines, the show’s cast has, at times, resembled a family unit, with the loveable sister or brother and wacky uncle, all deeply likeable and comforting. Yet the program has also been anchored by many outstanding journalists, including Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley, John Chancellor, Hugh Downs, Barbara Walters, Deborah Norville, and currently by Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
For its long-running and valued place in American broadcast history by providing news, information, personal advice, and cultural reflection on an array of topics for millions of viewers each morning, NBC’s the Today show wins an Institutional award.