Her new program may carry her name, but Katie Couric maintains “it isn't all about me.”
The television veteran is following her tenures as co-anchor of NBC's “Today” and anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News” with her own talk show, as the syndicated “Katie” begins its weekday run at 2 p.m. Monday on KOCO-5.
Many days, the hour will deal with one topic, and two or three on other days. But Couric says the series will reflect her desire for “smart conversation” about widely relatable subjects she has her own experiences with, from caring for an aging parent to learning about cancer.
“There are no guarantees in this business,” she says during an interview in Los Angeles, “but I do think Jeff (Zucker, the show's executive producer and former NBC programming chief who also collaborated with Couric on ‘Today') and I do have a good track record. We work really well together, and I hope when people hear our names, they'll think about quality television — and a certain sensibility and approach that is intelligent.”
Though appearances by the famous will be in the “Katie” mix (Sheryl Crow is the composer-performer of the show's theme song), Couric is eager to showcase the achievements of people not as well-known.
“I've always been drawn to stories of everyday people who have overcome obstacles in their lives and have been put in situations they never envisioned — and have been able to get to the other side,” she says. “Those are some of the most memorable interviews for me and, I think, some of the most moving for an audience.”
The field of new syndicated talk fare is crowded: Ricki Lake returns to the genre and “Survivor” host Jeff Probst launches his show the same day “Katie” premieres, and comedian Steve Harvey has had a one-week jump on them. Couric brings the longest TV history, though, and most definitely her singular brand. She displayed it very personally while spending much of the summer visiting many of the markets and stations that will carry “Katie.”
“I've been racking up a lot of frequent-flier miles,” she says, “but it's been really fun. I have a lot of respect for local news; I did it myself for a number of years (in Miami and Washington, D.C.), and the stations I'm going to be on are great. I feel very flattered that they're welcoming me into their homes in a way, and it's important for me to know their people so we can feel connected.”