Former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel joins Brian Williams newsmagazine Rock Center on NBC
NBC anchor Brian Williams compares it to nabbing a Hall of Fame-level slugger for a baseball franchise.
But the network's move to hire former ABC anchor Ted Koppel as a special correspondent for its new newsmagazine Rock Center may be something different; a nod to a vanishing era of old school television anchors who came down like the voice of God and didn't tweet unless they were writing a piece on pigeons.
Koppel's hire, along with the hire weeks ago of former CBS anchor Harry Smith, may be the surest sign that Williams is trying to build NBC's own version of 60 Minutes -- a newsmagazine freed from the crime-of-the-week formula on Dateline NBC to be a bit more substantive. Or at least look that way.
Koppel, who left ABC's Nightline in 2005 to contribute pieces to NPR and Discovery Networks, hasn't had a high profile recently. But his specialty was always the incisive, sometimes confrontational interview -- challenging subjects he felt were tapdancing around the truth, with few qualms about slinging a profanity or two if the situation warranted.
Now he's joining NBC's first newsmagazine in many years, due to debut Oct. 31. Here's hoping names like Koppel and Smith help them overcome that awful title.
NBC's press release is below:
October 13, 2011 – New York, NY – NBC News today announced that Ted Koppel, the legendary and highly respected broadcast journalist, has joined “Rock Center with Brian Williams” as a special correspondent. Koppel will bring his award-winning reporting to the new broadcast, led by Brian Williams, and premiering on Monday, October 31 at 10pm. The announcement was made today by Steve Capus, President of NBC News.
“We’re truly honored to have Ted join ‘Rock Center with Brian Williams’ as a special correspondent,” said Capus. “A pioneer of broadcast journalism, Ted has touched every major news event spanning nearly 5 decades, and not only does he bring a tremendous amount of experience to the broadcast, he is a tireless advocate for quality journalism, and is one of our profession’s premiere storytellers.”
"My goal has been to make ‘Rock Center’ the Cooperstown of our craft,” said Brian Williams. “Ted is a consensus Hall of Famer, joining the best team of men and women on the air today. While his place in the history of television journalism is already established, his work here is just beginning. This is the next chapter, and it’s an enormous honor to work with this giant and former competitor."
Koppel, whose broadcasting career spans half a century, has been honored with every major professional recognition. He contributes to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” and is best known for his role as anchor and managing editor of ABC News' “Nightline” where his interviews and reporting touched every major news story over 25 years, making him the longest-serving news anchor in network history. He left “Nightline” in November 2005 and was named managing editor of the Discovery Channel, anchoring and producing long-form programming that examined major global events.