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Ann Curry leaves NBC's 'Today' show with tearful address to viewers

This is the sound of a dream job snatched away.

Voice cracking with emotion, anchor Ann Curry told viewers this morning she would no longer be appearing as a regular co-anchor on NBC's Today show.

"This is not as I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years," said Curry, who often welled up with tears throughout her 5-minute speech at the end of Today's second hour.

Curry, 55, will move into a new job — Today show anchor-at-large and NBC News national/international correspondent — in a move widely seen as an attempt to shake up the show amid an alarming ratings slide for the network's most profitable program.

The anchor had been the subject of intense speculation over the past week, following the publication of two New York Times articles dissecting the ratings woes of the once-dominant morning show and reporting that NBC was negotiating her exit from the show.

Curry had replaced co-anchor Meredith Vieira just last year. But when she took over, the show was beating rival Good Morning America by more than 750,000 viewers; in April, ABC's morning show snapped the program's 16-year weekly winning streak in ratings.

And fairly or not, Curry took much of the blame.

None of that was mentioned this morning, as Curry announced she would move on to a reporting job, assembling a team of producers to help her develop special reporting projects across NBC News' many programs.

She took special time to thank viewers in her speech, noting "You are the real Today show family. You are why I have ventured into dangerous places and interviewed dictators and...convinced the Dalai Lama to (appear) live in our studio. I have loved you and I have wanted to give you the world."

In an interview with USA Today published this morning, Curry first spoke publicly about the controversy around her departure, which some news reports said NBC had been negotiating for a while.

She denied reports that she would be paid $10 million annually to leave the show, also decrying criticism that she and co-anchor Matt Lauer have an awkward onscreen chemistry.

It made for an odd scene this morning, as Curry bid her tearful goodbye inches away from the woman rumored to have been offered her job, Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of the show's third hour.

As Guthrie, Lauer and Al Roker recalled notable stories she'd covered in the past, Curry only alluded to the media turmoil about her tenure, as one of the highest-profile anchors of color in network television now forced from her dream job.

"For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line but man, I did try," she said. "I will keep trying and I'm so sorry I turned into a sob sister this morning."

Ann Curry leaves NBC's 'Today' show with tearful address to viewers 06/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 9:50am]
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