NEW YORK (WAVE) - It's been more than a month since Lester Holt was named the new permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News. WAVE 3 News Anchor Shannon Cogan recently met with Holt at his studio at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. It was his first interview with a local affiliate since being named the permanent anchor.
Lester Holt, 56, told Cogan that as a young journalist he dreamed about someday anchoring the evening newscast on one of the big three networks. For NBC News, that position was held for 10 years by Brian Williams until NBC News determined Williams made a number of inaccurate statements on air about his role in events.
During Williams suspension, it was Holt who filled in.
"What I did was approach it the way I would any assignment," Holt told Cogan about his feelings of filling in during a tough time for the NBC News Division. "Give it my all, give it my best, no expectations. When someone has something to tell me, they will. And that's kind of the way it played out."
Holt joined MSNBC 15 years ago from the CBS station in Chicago. He has reported from around the world and anchored Weekend Today and then Nightly News Weekend since 2007. It's now his name in the spotlight.
"I didn't even notice it the first day that it actually switched over," Holt said. "But then I saw it on the doorway leading into the newsroom and it was a little intimidating, a little humbling because you think not a lot of people have held that job and now I am one of them."
The married father of two adult sons, one an anchor at the NBC station in Chicago, grew up in California.
He says Nightly News might be broadcast from New York, but they work to make it relevant to all Americans, including those in Louisville.
He also brings a viewpoint as the first solo African-American anchor of one of the big three networks.
"I recognize that I bring a lot to the table to the diversity, discussion in the newsroom of how we cover stories, stronger sensitivity to certain stories regarding people of color, and I'll speak up," Holt said. "But I'm just one voice among many in a very diverse newsroom, a very diverse editorial staff."
One thing that might surprise you about Holt: he doesn't have a private car pick him up from his home in the morning. Instead, he takes the subway. But he says most of the time people either don't recognize him, or don't say anything to him if they do.
"I was on the subway one day and these two women were fidgeting and they said 'You're Lester Holt' and I said 'Yes. You're not from around here.' And they said, 'No, we're tourists'. And I said, 'I knew that because if you were a New Yorker you would pretend like you didn't see me.'"
Holt says he's never been to any of the big horse races, including the Kentucky Derby. Cogan offered him an invitation and he said he just might put it on his calendar.
"I have weekends off for the first time in 12 years, was never even on the horizon. But now I have Saturday and Sundays off."
Since Holt has taken over, the ratings for NBC Nightly News have been good. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt has snagged its fourth straight across the board weekly ratings win.