Magazine article Success

America's ... Adrenaline Junkie?! in Her Latest Career Tweak, Katie Couric Hosts a Talk Show and Busts through Yet Another Comfort Zone

Magazine article Success

America's ... Adrenaline Junkie?! in Her Latest Career Tweak, Katie Couric Hosts a Talk Show and Busts through Yet Another Comfort Zone

Article excerpt

For many talk-show hosts a studio audience is an invitation to navel-gaze--to share every blip of the hosts' weekends, love lives and moments with their adorable, talented offspring. But not for Katie Couric. "People want me to reveal things about myself in the course of the hour," she acknowledges by phone, sitting in her dressing room on the set of her new show, Katie. "But even though I'm a major ham, I'm also a little hesitant about oversharing. I think that can be really off-putting. So I've had to be really balanced about revealing a little bit, about me or my background that isn't too much."

While she has aired some personal issues during Katie's first weeks--most notably a struggle with bulimia in her late teens and early 20s--she has done so with brevity that would baffle the likes of Kelly Ripa.

Her modesty is refreshing, but it's also dialed a bit high, considering Couric is that rare celebrity whose story has plenty to teach the rest of us. Not only has she forged an enviable broadcasting career, with high-powered jobs at all three major TV networks, but she also has raised two daughters who do, in fact, seem adorable and talented); survived the loss of her husband, a sister and her father with optimism seemingly intact; overcome that eating disorder; and weathered the sniping and scrutiny that have driven other celebrities to public, camera-smashingh hissy fits.

How has Couric done it?

By many accounts--hers, friends', colleagues'--the answer begins with Couric's childhood in Arlington, Va. As she writes in her 2011 book The Best Advice I Ever Got, it was a Leave It to Beaver-style upbringing filled with track meets, cheerleading and piano lessons, plus the support of her parents and three siblings. And underpinning it were beliefs and values that, Couric and friends agree, guide her to this day:

Be brave.

It's no coincidence that one of the first guests on Katie was Brene Brown, author of the book Daring Greatly. "When it comes to going for a job, a promotion or just about anything in life, I'm pretty convinced that the meek will not inherit the earth," Couric writes in The Best Advice. She recommends finding a way to "stand out from the pack"--burning your resume into a baseball bat when applying for a job with a baseball team, say, or choosing a personal "trademark," a la chef Mario Batali's orange clogs. "Whether you call it chutzpah, cojones ... or one of my dad's favorite words, moxie, it's an essential ingredient for success."

Even as a newly minted college grad, with her only professional experience a series of radio internships, Couric suffered no shortage of pluck. After cold calls and mailed resumes failed to land a TV job, Couric recounts in The Best Advice, she put on a blazer and turned up at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C. She phoned the operator from the waiting area and boldly asked to be connected to the executive producer of World NeWS Tonight. After he answered, she parlayed a distant family connection into an invitation to come see him in the newsroom. The producer then led her to the office of the deputy bureau chief--and a few weeks later she was hired as a desk assistant by ABC.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Other gutsy moments have included Couric's famously no-holds-barred interview with Sarah Palin in 2008, and in 1992, an impromptu 19 minutes with the first President Bush for Today. Couric had been finishing a White House interview with his wile, Barbara, when the president (who had declined Today's request to speak with him) happened by. Couric promptly sprang into hard-news mode, grilling Bush on the Iran-Contra issue and other subjects despite his protests. "I think a lot of people would have been afraid to do that," says weatherman Al Roker, who worked with Couric for 10 years on Today. The interview proved so compelling that executive producer Jeff Zucker aired the whole thing live, dropping planned segments of the show. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.