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Video: Couric confirms she will leave 'Today'

updated 4/5/2006 11:29:33 AM ET 2006-04-05T15:29:33

On her 15th anniversary on “Today,” Katie Couric told viewers Wednesday she’s leaving NBC to join CBS, where she will become the first woman appointed to anchor a network evening newscast alone. Here's a transcript of her announcement on the show:

Lauer: We're back 7:30 now on a Wednesday morning. And this date, April 5 has seen some momentous occasions through the years. 1937 Colin Powell was born. 1954 Elvis Presley recorded his debut single "That's All Right." And in 1991, how about this, a girl from Arlington, Virginia officially hit the big time. Take a look. (See video above.)

Lauer: And we should alert the folks at Guinness that Kate is now the longest serving anchor in "Today" show history.

Katie: How about that?

Lauer: That's a lot of mornings, young lady

Couric: I thought I started when it was black and white! Meanwhile I think that was like 172 hairstyles ago.

Lauer: Wow, so many days. Anything new?

Couric: Well not really Matt, not really. (laughter).

Couric: Actually there are some things that are new. I guess this is the appropriate time for me to share my future plans. I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that, after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me well in the past, I've decided I'll be leaving "Today" at the end of May.

It was really a very difficult decision for a lot of reasons. First of all because of the connection I feel with you. I know I don't know the vast majority of you personally and it may sound kind of corny, but I really feel as if we've become friends through the years.

And you've been with me during a lot of good times. And some very difficult ones as well. And hopefully, I've been there for you.

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I can't tell you how grateful I am for the support you all have given me. And I so appreciate that you've included me in your morning routine.

Another reason that this decision was so difficult is my relationships with the people on this wonderful show. And I'm thinking about the crew in the control room and all my friends at NBC across the street. The notion that we're a family is not just some cheesy promotional device.

I really care deeply about the people here. From everyone who works behind the scenes. To the faces that are familiar to all of you, like Al and Ann, and of course, Matt. Yes, once in awhile we get on each other's nerves, well he gets on my nerves! (laughter) but I could not have asked for a more talented partner or better friend. Just as Dorothy said to the scarecrow. "I think I'll miss you most of all."

It's been such an honor and a privilege to occupy this seat for as long as I have. One of the things that I've always appreciated about the "Today" show is its rich tradition and it's place in history. In January it celebrated its 54th anniversary. Not only was I thrilled that the show is actually older than I am, but I was also reassured that it's an institution that will continue to grow and thrive because of all the extraordinarily dedicated people who work here. And care about the show as passionately as I do.

But sometimes I think change is a good thing. Although it may be terrifying to get out of your comfort zone, it's also exciting to start a new chapter in your life.

So for now, it's not goodbye — at least not yet. But a heartfelt thank you for 15 great years.

Lauer:  Also coming up in this half hour....(laughter). Talk about mixed emotions. I hope you know everyone here, and across the street, we feel the same way about you and echo your sentiments. And mixed emotions because it's hard to imagine being here and not having you sitting next to us. But also we're thrilled for the fact that you're taking on a new challenge. Oh and did it say anywhere in there where're you're going? (laughter)

Couric: At this point I'm thinking about opening up a second hand bookstore in Montana!

Lauer: If you were a guest on this show, I wouldn't let you get away without saying... So what are your plans?

Couric: Well I know it's the worst kept secret in America, but I'm going to be working on the CBS Evening News and "60 Minutes" and I'm very excited about it, but I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss everybody.

Lauer: Congratulations. Well the good news is....

Couric: Can I come and visit?

Lauer: You can come anytime you want, and the good news is we have a couple of months to say a proper goodbye. We're going to have a lot of fun and relive a lot of good moments.

Couric: You are going to be so sick of me by the end of May, you're going to be like "goodbye already!"

Lauer: No. No. We are so proud of you.

Couric: Thanks.

Lauer: And we'll to miss you so much.

Lauer: Let's get a check of the weather from Al.

(After the weather report)

Al Roker: Hell just froze over! (laughter)

Lauer: Hail Hail! The gang's all here.

Ann Curry: Oh Katie. You know, it feels like my sister is going off to college.

Couric: Well, I'll come home for the holidays!

Ann Curry: I want to make sure you've got your toothbrush, your bags packed. Oh, but I'm so excited for you.

Couric: Thanks Ann. I woke Ann up last night to talk to her.

Curry: You did, at 10:30, that's why I'm a little groggy. I couldn't get back to sleep...!

Couric: I'm sorry!

Curry: But...but our hearts are heavy because you've left a lasting imprint on this program and us.

Couric: Well, we're so lucky because you guys are all so talented. We've got a great team and it is true that that the "Today" show has always been bigger than any one person. So I'm excited about the months and years ahead for you... Well years maybe! (laughter)

Lauer: Did you get a memo we didn't get? (laughter)

Roker: Uh Oh! Wait a minute!

Couric: I'm excited for the weeks ahead! (laughter)

Roker: I remember the first time I worked with you in Washington D.C. on the "Sunday Today" show and I knew it was special then and it's special now. And they are very, very lucky at CBS.

Couric: Oh well thanks Al...thank you so much anyway.

Curry: Will you still give us hair advice? And a...

Lauer: And grief about our hair! (laughter)

Couric: Yeah sure I'll call with that! Anyway, speaking of hair. My mom is so funny. She called me yesterday and said "You're on the front page of the Washington Post"... Get a hair cut!" (laughter)

Roker: All right mom!

Couric: You see where I get it from, right?

Lauer:  Well in May, boy we're going to have so much fun in May. We're going to live through a lot of great memories...

Couric: Party!

Lauer: We're going to throw one huge party, too.

Lauer: Anyway, well done. Well done. (Matt puts hand on Katie's knee).

Couric: Get your hand off my knee. (laughter)

Roker:  Can't wait to see Bob Scheiffer do that! (laughter)

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