Savannah Guthrie was named as Matt Lauer's co-anchor on NBC's "Today" show Friday, marking the pinnacle of the Tucson-raised journalist's meteoric rise through the ranks of TV news.
Guthrie, 40, replaces Ann Curry, who left the show Thursday, accepting a position as anchor-at-large and correspondent at the network. As she has before when Curry was away, Guthrie filled in for Curry on Friday. Guthrie makes her official start July 9. Guthrie will continue to serve as NBC's chief legal analyst.
Media pundits say Curry was asked to step aside, likely in a maneuver to grab some momentum in the ratings battle with ABC rival "Good Morning America."
Guthrie, who started at NBC in 2007, served as the network's White House correspondent from 2008 to 2011, when she started hosting the third hour of "Today." Guthrie has also worked for Court TV.
Guthrie's ties to Tucson are deep. She graduated from Amphitheater High School and the University of Arizona and worked for KVOA Channel 4 before departing in 1999 to attend Georgetown University Law School.
"It was a joy and a pleasure working with Sav," said KVOA reporter Lupita Murillo, via email. "She is an amazing person who is not only talented, but also caring. Her knowledge of the law and how she's able to present it on the air so we can understand it is a gift."
Murillo recalled the good old days working with Guthrie.
"We would always trade off stories, if I had a court story and she had something to do with crime, we'd switch. She was great even back then. I'm extremely proud of our Sav. I would like to take credit for getting her through law school by sending her salsa from El Charro."
Guthrie has maintained a connection to her former hometown. She gave the commencement speech at the May 2011 UA graduation.
Through her publicist, Guthrie declined an interview request Friday. On her Facebook page, Guthrie thanked her fans for support, posting, "Thank you to all those who sent such warm and kind messages ... See you soon on TODAY."
"Today" show executive producer Jim Bell told The Associated Press that Guthrie has "a one-of-a-kind combination of sharp wit and approachability, and our viewers value her journalistic skills and legal background just as much as her humor and charm."
Guthrie's other former KVOA colleagues took pride in hearing of her promotion. News director Cathie Batbie-Loucks said via email that Guthrie's "passion for news was contagious." KVOA President and General Manager Bill Shaw added, "She is not only incredibly talented but down to earth and likable. I understand that when Savannah was a rookie, not only did we train her, but she trained us."
On StarNet: See a video about Guthrie's journey from justice to journalism at azstarnet.com/multimedia
"It was a joy and a pleasure working with Sav. ... Her knowledge of the law and how she's able to present it on the air so we can understand it is a gift."
Did you know?
Another former Tucsonan who went on from KVOA to national fame at NBC is sportscaster Dan Hicks. A former Sabino High School and University of Arizona student, Hicks is known for his PGA golf coverage and for calling the swimming action at the Olympic games in Athens, Sydney and Atlanta.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org