During nearly every stop of her six-city “listening tour” this summer, Katie Couric said viewers told her they wanted the network evening news to be an hour instead of just 30 minutes.
Couric, who becomes anchor of the “CBS Evening News” on Sept. 5, told The Associated Press on Monday that the request speaks to a hunger for news and information.
She traveled to six cities for off-the-record conversations with CBS News viewers about things they would like to see in the evening news. For the most part, Couric said the public input validated changes that she and executive producer Rome Hartman were already considering, such as a regular segment for people to give their opinions.
An hourlong newscast is considered very unlikely. Network affiliates would be loathe to give up that extra half-hour, which is often used to air profitable syndicated programs like “Jeopardy” or “Entertainment Tonight.”
“I told them to call Pat O’Brien,” Couric joked about “The Insider” host.
Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, talked frequently about a desire to do a longer newscast but it never happened.
“Every time people said that, I would tell them, ‘as Dan Rather would say, that dog won’t hunt,”’ she said. “It would be fantastic if it could and I think at some point a network will do a prime-time news hour every night.”
The most likely candidate is a network with severe prime-time ratings problems, and that doesn’t define top-rated CBS right now.
Couric also said she hasn’t spent much time thinking about a signature phrase to end her newscast, although her mother is trying to feed her ideas. For a brief time and to much ridicule, Rather ended the evening newscast by saying, “courage.”
“I contemplated ‘peace out, homies,”’ Couric said. “That just didn’t feel completely right.”