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Katie Couric launches her daytime talk next week, and there's a lot of skepticism to go along with considerable buzz.
Sure, after 15 years as one of the hosts of "The Today Show" and five as the anchor of "The CBS Evening News," she has a familiar face and a reputation. But does she have what it takes to conquer the world of daytime TV?
Will she be able to present her more natural, spontaneous and interactive side, as opposed to the more formal anchor role she filled as the network's evening anchor?
"I haven't been on the 'Today Show' for six years," Couric said. "And I think when I did the 'Evening News' that I didn't have an opportunity to show those sides of myself. So I think that I have to refamiliarize the audience with the kind of person I was on 'The Today Show.' "
KSL has high hopes for Couric. Beginning Monday, Sept. 10, "Katie" will air weekdays at 4 p.m. on Channel 5 a prime slot leading into the early evening newscasts.
In contrast, some local stations didn't even bid on "Katie." Off the record, they feared she's miscast as a daytime talk-show host. Couric admits she isn't exactly experienced in the field.
"I think the closest that I've worked with a live studio audience is probably the crowd on the plaza that we started to do when I was anchoring 'The Today Show' with Bryant Gumbel," Couric said.
But neither that nor anchoring a network newscast required establishing rapport with a daytime audience. "I hope the way I connect to them is that I've experienced a lot of the things in my own life that I think we'll be talking about," Couric said. "I feel like a lot of the things that I'm going through in my life are relatable, and so I've been there."
Some of those experiences include losing a spouse to cancer at an early age, having to navigate dating in her 40s and 50s, and caring for her 89-year-old mother after her father's recent death.
The ever-perky Couric thinks she'll be a natural at this daytime talk-show thing. "I think I'm just a natural-born extrovert," she said, "and I've always been exceedingly outgoing and friendly and probably overly so. My mom used to worry about how I was like a puppy dog and would come up to everybody and talk to everyone, and I think she worried about my personal safety at times. But, you know, I think it's just part of who I am."
She's prepared for scrutiny. She's been there before, she says, recalling criticism that seemed "so shallow" when she was promoted to the CBS evening anchor desk.
"Somebody saying they didn't like the way I was holding my hands doing the news, or they didn't like the white jacket that I wore after Labor Day, God forbid," Couric said. "And I would say, 'It was winter white. It was tropical-weight wool and it was Armani, people.' It was sort of hard for me to understand some of the vitriol that was unleashed and kind of sent my way."
Drawing upon her natural enthusiastic personality, Couric talks about what she learned from years of being in the national spotlight. "I think it was a really great character-building experience for me; it taught me to focus on the work and to continue to doing the very best job I could," she said.
Broadcast journalist Katie Couric's daytime talk show will air weekdays at 4 p.m. on KSL-Channel 5 beginning Monday, Sept. 10. Her first guest will be Jessica Simpson.
A lineup of guests set to appear in September include Barbra Streisand, Sheryl Crow, Chelsea Handler, E.L. James, Heidi Klum, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Simpson, Sofia Vergara and Wendy Williams.