Today (also referred to as The Today Show) is an American morning news and talk show airing every morning on NBC. Debuting on January 14, 1952, it was the first of its genre, spawning similar morning news and entertainment television programs across the United States and around the world. The show is also the third-longest running American television series. Originally a two-hour program on weekdays, it expanded to Sundays (currently one hour) in 1987 and Saturdays (two hours) in 1992. The weekday broadcast expanded to three hours in 2000, and a fourth hour launched in 2007.
Today's dominance was virtually unchallenged by the other networks until the late 1980s, when it was overtaken by ABC's Good Morning America. Today retook the Nielsen ratings lead the week of December 11, 1995, and has held onto that position every week since.
During the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Today broadcast live from the summit of Grouse Mountain, overlooking the City of Vancouver and next to Cypress Mountain, home of the Vancouver-based ski events.
The first two hours of the show are anchored by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, with weather reporter Al Roker, news anchor Ann Curry, and correspondent Natalie Morales. Roker, Curry and Morales also serve as co-hosts of the third hour, while Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford co-host the fourth hour. Weekend Today is anchored by Lester Holt, Amy Robach (Saturday) and Jenna Wolfe (Sunday), all three of whom frequently contribute to the weekday show.
Curry most frequently moves up to fill-in for Lauer or Vieira in their absence, as do Holt, Burnett, Morales and Meet the Press moderator David Gregory. Likewise, Morales, Kotb, Robach and Wolfe are the most frequent fill-ins for Curry at the news desk.
Other national correspondents include Mike Leonard, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, Bob Dotson, Jamie Gangel, and Tiki Barber. Gene Shalit is the entertainment critic, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman is the network's chief medical correspondent. Jean Chatzky, editor-at-large for Money Magazine, provides weekly financial segments. Sarah Haines is the online correspondent.
Vieira only appears on the show during the first two hours, due to her pre-existing role as host of the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which may air on competing stations as early as 9:00 a.m. Lauer participates in the third hour introductory segment, but may remain later if news events warrant.
The show's first broadcast aired on January 14, 1952. It was the brainchild of Sylvester L. Weaver, Jr., who was then vice-president of NBC. Weaver was president of the company from 1953 to 1955, during which time Today's late-night companion The Tonight Show premiered. In pre-production, the show's proposed title was The Rise and Shine Revue.
Today was the first show of its genre when it signed on with original host Dave Garroway. The show blended national news headlines, in-depth interviews with newsmakers, lifestyle features, other light news and gimmicks (including the presence of the chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs as the show's mascot during the early years), and local station news updates. It has spawned several other shows of a similar type, including ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS' The Early Show. In other countries the format was copied – most notably in the United Kingdom with the BBC's Breakfast and ITV's Good Morning Britain and in Canada with Canada AM on CTV.
When Today started, it was seen live only in the Eastern and Central time zones, broadcasting three hours per morning but seen for only two hours in each time zone. Since 1958, Today is tape-delayed for the different time zones. Partly to accommodate host Dave Garroway's declining health, the program ceased live broadcasts in the summer of 1958, opting instead to broadcast an edition taped the prior afternoon. The experiment, which drew criticism from many sides, ended when John Chancellor replaced Garroway in July 1961.
For many years Today was a two-hour program, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in all time zones except for Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. Virgin Islands, until NBC expanded it to three hours on October 2, 2000. A fourth hour was added on September 10, 2007. In some markets (such as Boston, Massachusetts, on WHDH-TV), the third and fourth hours of Today are aired on further tape delay.
During the first three hours, local affiliates are offered a five-minute window at :25 and :55 to insert a local newsbreak, although the show provides additional segments for those affiliates who do not do so.
When breaking news stories warrant, Today will broadcast a live West Coast edition. The live updates typically do not last longer than the 7:00 a.m. (PT) hour and once completed, will return to the taped East Coast feed. When the anchors welcome the viewers to the show, they will note the current time as being "Pacific Time" and continue to note it as such until the tape delay is started. In some instances, when NBC Special Reports occur during the Today timeslot, the show's anchors will assume hosting responsibilities.
For the most part, "Today" is aired live in the Eastern Time Zone in most markets while taped delayed in the remaining time zones. On rare occasions, the show has aired live from coast to coast, the last such instance being on September 11, 2001.
The Today program first originated from the RCA Exhibition Hall on 49th Street in a space now occupied by the Christie's auction house, just down the block from the current studio. The first set placed a functional newsroom in the studio, which Garroway called "the nerve center of the world." The barrier between backstage and on-stage was virtually nonexistent. Garroway and the on-air staff often walked through the newsroom set. Glimpses of camera crew and technicians were a frequent occurrence, as were off-screen voices conversing with Garroway. Gradually, machines and personnel were placed behind the scenes to assemble the news and weather reports, and the newsroom was gone by 1955. In 1958, the show moved across the street to Studio 3K in the RCA Building, where it remained through the early 1960s.
On July 9, 1962, the show returned to a streetside studio in the space then occupied by the Florida Showcase. On September 13, 1965, Today moved back to the RCA Building. The network's news programming went to all-color broadcasts at that time, and NBC could not justify allocating four (then-expensive) color cameras to the Florida Showcase studio.
For the next twenty years, the show occupied a series of studios on the third, sixth, and eighth floors of NBC's headquarters; most notably Studio 3K in the 1970s, Studio 8G (adjacent to Studio 8H, home to Saturday Night Live) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and finally Studio 3B from 1983 to 1994. Today moved to the current streetside studio in June 13, 1994, providing a link to the show's 1950s origins.
Since the premiere of the 1990s set, the morning shows of each of the major broadcast and cable-news networks has moved streetside—including two of Today's Rockefeller Center neighbors, Fox News' Fox & Friends (at Avenue of the Americas) and CNN's American Morning. (In summer 2005, CNN reversed the trend, abandoning its street-level studio and moving upstairs in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.) ABC's Good Morning America broadcasts from Times Square Studios.
In 2006, Studio 1A underwent a major renovation to prepare for 1080i high-definition broadcasting. After the departure of Katie Couric and while a new set was readied (Summer of 2006), the program was broadcast from a temporary outdoor studio in Rockefeller Plaza, the same set NBC used at the Olympic Games since 2004 (Athens (2004), in Torino, Italy, (2006), and would be re-used for Beijing (2008). However, it would not be used during in Vancouver (2010), as their studio was the atrium at Grouse Mountain.) During the week of August 28, 2006, the show was moved to a temporary location outside of Studio 1A because MTV was converting the Outdoor Studio into their Red Carpet booth for the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. A mock set was set up in Dateline's studio, also used during inclement weather. Also, they used a temporary outdoor set at 30 Rock,and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann (which joined at Studio 1A in 30 Rock on October 22, 2007).
On September 13, 2006, Today moved into its brand new set. The new studio is divided into five different parts on the lower level. It includes the interview area, the couch area, the news desk, the performance/interview/extra space area, and home base, which is where the anchors start the show. A gigantic Panasonic 103-inch plasma monitor is often used for graphic display backgrounds. A kitchen set is located upstairs from the main studio. The blue background that is seen in the opening of the show in home base moves up and down to allow a view of the outside from the home base. New graphics were introduced, which underwent only minor changes until they were updated on September 8, 2009, with the introduction of the new Your day is Today slogan.
Today anchors started out as "Communicators." Creator Pat Weaver envisioned a person whose responsibilities would go beyond the bounds of traditional sit-down news anchors. The Communicator would interview, report, moderate dialogue and generally tie the show together into a coherent whole. Garroway and his successors have all followed that model, with little variation. Today, the hosts are expected to do much the same, and on any given day will talk with correspondents, newsmakers and lifestyle experts; introduce and close each half-hour; conduct special segments (such as cooking or fashion) and go on-assignment to host the program from different locations. Although the "Communicator" nomenclature has since dropped out of favor, the job remains largely the same. The principal anchors/hosts of the show have included:
Barbara Walters became a co-host in 1966, but did not have the official title until 1974.
From the show's inception, the idea of providing the latest news has been critical to the function of the program. In that vein, there has always been at least one person on set whose job it is to prepare and deliver newscasts. In 1952, that person was called Today's "news editor" or (informally) "news chief." In modern parlance, the term "newsreader" or "news anchor" is preferred. Under the two-hour format, four newscasts would be delivered, once every half-hour. Now there are only three newscasts, delivered at the top of each of the first three hours. Some anchors, including Jim Fleming, Lew Wood, Floyd Kalber and John Palmer, were seasoned journalists before joining the program. Others, including Ann Curry, have used the position to increase their journalistic acumen, at times leaving the newsdesk behind to venture into the field. News anchors have included the following:
For the program's first 25 years, weather reports were delivered by the host or newsreader. Dave Garroway would draw the day's weather fronts and areas of precipitation on a big chalkboard map of the United States, based on information gathered earlier in the morning from the U.S. Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C. Subsequent hosts John Chancellor and Hugh Downs dropped the chalkboard weather map concept and instead read a prepared weather summary over a still image of a weather map. When the show went to all-color broadcasts in 1965, weather maps were prepared and projected on a screen behind Frank Blair, who would deliver the forecast immediately after his news summaries. Following Blair's retirement in 1975, Lew Wood took over the newsreader and weather reporting duties. When Floyd Kalber became news anchor in 1976, Wood continued to do the weather (in addition to doing other news, sports, and commercials) until 1978. The weather is reported every half-hour during the program's first three hours, though since Al Roker took over as weather reporter, this is not always the case as an interview by Al at the beginning of the show may air in place of the national weather forecast at least once during the show at certain times during the week, leaving only the local weather inserts by NBC stations.
Until the hiring of Bob Ryan in 1978, however, no one on the show had practical experience or academic credentials in meteorology.
Today weather reporters have included:
NBC affiliate stations are given a 30 second window to insert a local forecast into the program following the national weather report; Roker's outcue for the local break is "That's what's going on around the country, here’s what’s happening in your neck of the woods." (A national summary of temperatures from Roker is shown if no local forecast is inserted in the area and to those watching outside Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza.)
The semi-retired Scott, who gained fame through his antics that included costumes and props, still occasionally appears as Roker's fill-in, and to continue his tradition of wishing "happy birthday" to centenarians. Scott's traditional local cue was "Here's what's happening in your world, even as we speak."
The job of "panelist" has no set definition. Panelist duties can range from conducting interviews to reporting on a number of topics in-studio and in the field. Regular panelists on the program include the following:
From 1952 to 1964, a notable member of the cast was a woman, often an entertainer, the Today Girl. Usually, she would discuss fashion and lifestyle, report the weather, cover lighter-fare stories or engage in verbal jousting with Garroway. Estelle Parsons was the first to hold the job, though her title at the time was "Women's Editor". Upon her departure in 1955, the Today Girl name was adopted. The last to hold the position, Barbara Walters, discussed the job in her autobiography Audition: A Memoir. She wrote that the era was before the Women's Movement, and it was believed that nobody would take a woman seriously reporting "hard news"; Walters described the position as a "tea pourer". In 1966, Walters was promoted to co-host alongside Hugh Downs, and the Today Girl position was eliminated. Those who held the position were:
In 1989, Gumbel wrote a memo to Today Show executive producer Marty Ryan which was critical of other Today Show personalities. This memo was leaked to the press. In the memo, Gumbel commented that Willard Scott "holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste...This guy is killing us and no one's even trying to rein him in". He commented that Gene Shalit's movie reviews "are often late and his interviews aren't very good."
There was enough negative backlash in regard to Gumbel's comments toward Scott that Gumbel was shown making up with Scott on The Today Show.
By 1989, Deborah Norville replaced John Palmer at the Today newsdesk and he assumed her previous role on Sunrise. She also began substituting for Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News. Shortly after Norville's appointment as Today's news anchor, the decision was made to feature Norville as an unofficial third host. Whereas Palmer had read the news from a desk separate from where Gumbel and Pauley sat, Norville was seated alongside the program's hosts at the opening and closing of every show. Before long, gossip columns and media observers predicted that NBC would remove Jane Pauley from the program and replace her with Norville in an effort to improve the program's recently declining viewership by young women, the demographic most coveted by morning shows. During this period Saturday Night Live featured a skit titled "All About Deborah Norville" (a takeoff on the classic film All About Eve), which depicted Norville as ruthlessly scheming to take Pauley's place as Today co-host.
By late 1989, it was announced that 13-year veteran Pauley would leave Today at the end of the year. NBC, as expected, announced that Norville would become co-host. An emotional Norville hugged Pauley on the air after the announcement was made, and many at NBC hoped the negative press generated by Norville's increased presence on the program would end. It did not. Prior to the announcement of Pauley's departure, much of the criticism had focused on Norville's youth and beauty, with many branding her "the other woman" and a "home wrecker," in a reference to what some felt seemed like her intent on "breaking up" the television marriage of Gumbel and Pauley.
Negative press only heightened after the announcement of Pauley's resignation, and Norville was put under a gag order by NBC brass which prevented her from defending herself from the widespread and erroneous reports that she somehow orchestrated her rise on Today. In January 1990, the new anchor team of Bryant Gumbel and Deborah Norville, minus Jane Pauley, debuted with disastrous results. Ratings for the program began to plummet. Critics felt that Gumbel and Norville lacked chemistry and many loyal viewers began turning to rival ABC's Good Morning America (GMA).
By the end of 1990, Today, the longtime dominant program, was officially the second place morning show behind GMA, and most of the blame was pinned on Norville. By the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Norville saw her role as co-host continually minimized. Today aired special editions of the program called America at War, with Gumbel anchoring most of the show alone. It was not uncommon for Norville not to even make an appearance until the two hour show's second half hour. In addition, she was directed not to initiate conversation on the show and only speak when asked a question by Gumbel. Norville left the show for maternity leave in February 1991. It was announced that Katie Couric would substitute co-host during Norville's absence. Ratings for the program rose immediately following Norville's departure and Couric's arrival.
Midway though her maternity leave, Norville was interviewed by People. In the story, she avoided conversation about her recent trouble on Today, and instead focused on her newborn baby boy. She was photographed breastfeeding her son, a seemingly innocuous event, but NBC management was said to be greatly displeased by this, believing the photo to be in poor taste. By April 1991, in light of improved ratings on Today and NBC's displeasure at the People photograph, it was announced that Norville would not return to Today and that Katie Couric had been named the program's co-host. Norville, it was disclosed, would continue to be paid in accordance with her contract, although she would no longer appear on any NBC News programs.
Beginning in 2003 there were rumors that Katie Couric and Matt Lauer were in the midst of a feud. Reports say that this was due to Katie Couric's prominence, that she was generally perceived as handling the news program, and that she was the only person who could guarantee high ratings for a morning news program.
On Wednesday April 5, 2006, Katie Couric announced on her fifteenth anniversary as co-host of Today that she would leave Today and NBC News at the end of May to become the new anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News. Katie Couric's final broadcast was aired on May 31, 2006. The day's show was dedicated to Couric's fifteen years as one of the show's co-hosts, and celebrated her move to the anchor chair at CBS, where she also became a correspondent for the network's Sunday night program 60 Minutes. Couric said during the show, "It's been a pleasure hosting this program, and thank you for fifteen great years." A special video presentation was broadcast, recapping her best moments and news stories on Today during her fifteen years.
The day after Couric's announcement, Meredith Vieira, then a host of ABC's The View announced on that show that she would take over as Lauer's co-anchor in September. Lauer and Vieira began co-hosting together on September 13, 2006.
On June 1, 2006 (the day after Couric's departure), NBC News announced that for the summer of 2006 Today would move to a temporary outdoor studio as Studio 1A was going through renovations to prepare for high-definition. On that same day, NBC News launched a new advertisement promoting Vieira's arrival. For the summer of 2006, Couric's anchor seat was filled with various hosts, consisting of Curry, Morales and Campbell Brown (all of whom were considered candidates to replace Couric), until Vieira took over that fall.
Lauer's contract has been secured for the future years. He has signed through 2011 and has received a sizable salary increase.
In March 2010, Vieria signed a contract that would keep her with the program until at least September 2011.
The first brand extension was created in 1982. Early Today was conceived as a lead-in for Today. It even had the same anchors, Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley. The program was conceived so local stations could carry the full hour or one of the two half-hours. After a year NBC replaced it with NBC News at Sunrise, anchored by Connie Chung.
In 1999, NBC cancelled Sunrise and created two brand extensions for Today. One was Early Today (not to be confused with the earlier incarnation); the program originally was produced by CNBC and focused on business and financial news before switching to general news under the same production staff as MSNBC First Look; it continues to air on many NBC affiliates. Also in the of fall 1999, Later Today, a talk show that was intended to air immediately following the then two-hour Today, was launched with hosts Jodi Applegate, Florence Henderson and Asha Blake. Sagging ratings for that show caused its cancellation in August 2000; it was replaced two months later by the current third hour of Today.
On September 10, 2007, NBC expanded the show length to four hours, as announced on January 17, 2007 at its press tour sessions. The fourth hour was originally hosted by Curry, Morales and Hoda Kotb; Kathie Lee Gifford replaced Curry and Morales on April 7, 2008. Without news segments or input from the earlier hosts, the fourth hour operates virtually as a standalone talk show, with an opening "host chat" segment reminiscent of the one popularized by Gifford and Regis Philbin on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, as well as features focusing on entertainment, fashion and other topics intended to draw in female viewers.
NBC had aired the daytime soap opera Passions from 1999 to 2007 but had dropped it to make room on their schedule for the extended version of Today. The fourth hour of The Today Show competes with ABC's The View and CBS's The Price Is Right in most markets in the Central and Pacific time zones, but most Eastern time stations air it live one hour before those programs. Not all NBC affiliates carry the new hour. The fourth hour of The Today Show is filmed and mainly broadcast at 10:00 AM EST, although some affiliates air it at other times.
Today Show host Dave Garroway selected Les Brown's Sentimental Journey as the program's very first theme, used during the entire Garroway era from 1952 to 1961. In 1962, when Hugh Downs became host, Django Reinhardt's "Melodie au Crepuscule" was chosen as the new theme; it was replaced in 1963 by Misty, an instrumental ballad composed by Erroll Garner and performed by Bobby Hackett and John B. Seng.
Misty served as Today’s theme until 1971, when NBC News correspondent Frank McGee joined the show. Composer Ray Ellis penned an entirely new instrumental theme entitled "This is Today", a jazzy, up-tempo piece that served as the program's main theme until 1978. Because This is Today closely resembled the theme Day by Day from the musical Godspell, Ellis was successfully sued for copyright infringement and This is Today was revised. The second version of This is Today incorporated the familiar NBC chime signature (G-E-C) in a bright, appropriately sunny arrangement that was used until 1981, at the close of the Tom Brokaw-Jane Pauley era. The G-E-C signature was also used throughout the program to introduce and conclude segments, usually in combination with the familiar Today Show sunburst.
By 1982, Today had a new anchor, Bryant Gumbel, and a new version of Ellis' This is Today theme, a looser, more relaxed arrangement that continued to feature the NBC chimes in its melody. A shorter arrangement of This is Today was used for the show open (featuring a rotating globe and Today sunburst) from 1983 to 1985. The main theme was used until 1985, and due to its popularity with viewers was resurrected as the show's secondary theme in January 1993.
1985 saw the end of the synthesizer era at NBC as composer John Williams wrote a series of themes for all NBC News programs, with a cut entitled The Mission serving as the principal theme for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. Williams also composed two themes for Today: an opening fanfare for the program that was derived from the opening of The Mission; and a two-minute closing theme for the show entitled Scherzo for Today, a dramatic arrangement that made heavy use of strings and flutes. In the late 1980s, Scherzo was played in its entirety multiple times daily during the weather scrolls that ran during local commercial breaks; however, most NBC affiliates preempted these segments with advertising. The new Today themes—used in tandem with the show's new opening sequence featuring the Statue of Liberty and a new living room studio set—gave the program a distinctly modern look and sound beginning in September 1985. A series of Williams-penned bumpers featuring the Mission signature were also used to open and close segments.
Scherzo for Today was used as the program's closing theme until 1990, and the Mission bumpers were used until 1993. (One of them could be heard as a station break lead-in on NBC's Meet The Press until 2004.) Meanwhile, Williams' opening fanfare has opened the program ever since its 1985 introduction, with two brief interruptions; new opening themes were briefly introduced and quickly discarded in the summer of 1994 (to mark the debut of Studio 1A) and in 2004. The fanfare was iconically accompanied by Fred Facey announcing "From NBC News, this is Today... with (anchor) and (anchor)." Although Facey died in April 2003, His introduction of the Couric/Lauer team was used for the duration of Couric's era (except for special editions requiring special introductions). Weekend Today announcer Les Marshak became the new voice of the weekday program on September 13, 2006.
Currently, a lighter theme employing the NBC chimes is used to open the show's 7:30 through 9:30 half-hour segments, and also used as a closing theme.
The Sunday edition of Today debuted on September 20, 1987. Five years later on August 1, 1992, the Saturday edition debuted expanding the Today schedule to seven days a week. The Sunday broadcast airs for one hour (originally 90 minutes, until the expansion of Meet the Press to a full hour in 1992), and the Saturday broadcast airs for two hours.
The weekend broadcasts continue the Today tradition of covering breaking news, interviewing newsmakers, reporting on a variety of popular-culture and human-interest stories, covering health and finance issues and presenting the latest weather reports. NBC feeds the Saturday edition from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the Sunday edition from 8:00 a.m to 9:00 a.m. (both Eastern Time), although many of the network's affiliates air local newscasts in those time slots and carry the network broadcast later in the morning. NBC's New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles owned and operated stations air Weekend Today simultaneously (but not live) at 9:00 a.m ET, 8:00 a.m. CT and 6:00 am PT.
Weekend editions are tailored to the priorities and interests of weekend viewers—offering special series such as "Saturday Today on the Plaza", featuring live performances by the biggest names in music and Broadway outside the studio throughout the summer.
Current anchors -
Former anchors -
Week of January 4, 2009: Today (8am) averaged 5,998,000 millon viewers, Today II (9:00am) averaged 4,447,000 Total Viewers and a 1.4 rating in the A25-54 demo. It was the hour's best ratings since the week of August 11, 2008. Today III (10:00am) averaged 2,412,000 Total Viewers and a .8 rating in the demo. It was the most Total Viewers for the program since the week of December 31, 2007.
Week of October 12, 2008
Only the first two hours of Today are counted above. For the sake of Nielsen ratings (but not on-air), NBC refers to the third and fourth hours as Today II and Today III, respectively. For the week above, Today II drew 2.9 million viewers and Today III' delivered 1.7 million.
Week of June 30, 2008 
Week of September 11, 2006
NBC News programming is shown daily on the 24 hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. This includes a live broadcast of Today.
In Australia, NBC Today airs from 4am Tuesday to Saturday on the Seven Network. Sunday's edition is broadcast at 5.00am on Mondays, following Meet The Press. The program is condensed into a 90 minute broadcast (except for Saturday mornings where the full 2-hour edition is shown), with no local news inserted. However, a news ticker appears at the bottom of the screen, containing National headlines, as well as upcoming information for the Sunrise breakfast show. A national weather map of Australia is inserted during cut-aways to local affiliates for weather. Today is pre-empted by paid programming on regional Seven affiliates Prime and Golden West Network. The top three U.S. breakfast programs air simultaneously on Australian television with the CBS Early Show airing on Network Ten and Good Morning America on the Nine Network.
Today is also shown in the Philippines on 2nd Avenue on RJTV with the weekday editions immediately airing after Early Today, which airs at 6.00 am local time Tuesdays to Saturdays. Weekend Today airs Sundays and Mondays at 7.00 am local time.
In the United Kingdom and across Europe, Today originally aired on Sky News between 1989 and 1993, and from 1993 and 1998 on NBC Europe. The show was initially aired live in the afternoons until 1995, when it was delayed until the next morning.