Tucson’s Golden Girl has arrived – on the morning set of NBC’s Today Show, that is.
Savannah Guthrie, who grew up in Tucson after being born in Australia,
is now sharing the morning spotlight with Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Natalie Morales.
To say Guthrie is a rising star would be an understatement. In fact, her star’s been on a rising trajectory since her days at Tucson’s local NBC affiliate KVOA in the mid-to-late 1990s. The former Amphitheater High and University of Arizona graduate has made the Old Pueblo – and those who know her – proud.
Guthrie’s new job came with a ticket to the 2012 Olympics in London where she met Tucson’s other national TV celeb – Dan Hicks of NBC Sports. “Navigating your way through the Olympics just after you’ve been named the co-anchor had to be a bit nerve-wracking for her – but she eased right in as if she’d been there for months,” Hicks said.
“That is not an easy job. Matt makes it look easy and I think Savannah has the same kind of quality about her – easy to listen to and very pleasant – that works well that early in the morning every day. If any personality can get
on the public’s nerves, it’s at that hour every day. I think she’ll do great. She’s got girl-next-door appeal with a smart wit and intelligence. I think NBC made an outstanding choice and look forward to waking up with her and Matt.”
Like Guthrie, Hicks is a UA grad who got his start at KVOA.
“Savannah embraces all of the qualities of a great journalist,” said Cathie Batbie-Loucks, KVOA news director. “She is dedicated, hard-working and loyal to the pursuit of good journalism. I was one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to work with Savannah in her early years and her passion for news was contagious. Savannah has had a storied broadcast career and her KVOA family couldn’t be more proud of her success. We know the rest of the world will love her as much as Tucson does.”
Lisa Contreras agreed. She, too, worked with Guthrie early in the
“In my nearly 20 years in broadcast journalism, I had the privilege to work with a number of incredibly promising young talents,” said Contreras, former KVOA news director (1999-2005) and executive producer (1994-1996). “It’s easy to see which ones had the tenacity to become shining stars, and for all the right reasons. Savannah was certainly one. I remember telling her more than once that I was confident she’d someday be a network news anchor. I am so glad I was right.
“Her ability to learn and understand any subject, connect with the people she interviews, remain humble about her accomplishments and enthusiastic about every news day – those are rare and wonderful qualities.”
It was never more apparent than during the tragedy on Jan. 8, 2011 when then U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded. It put Tucson in a story – and in a situation – few could only imagine.
Guthrie, who flew in to do the story for NBC, could.
“After the January 8th shooting, we were grateful to have a hometown voice on the national stage,” said Laura Shaw, senior VP of marketing and communications for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities. “Savannah embraced her personal connection to Tucson and her reporting reinforced the message that we are a strong, caring community in a way that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.”
Oddly – but in a good way – reporting the news wasn’t Guthrie’s career choice. Initially, she had intended on being a business major while attending UA. But, with a suggestion from her mom to take some journalism courses, she “got hooked” on the profession.
“I love to write and I was encouraged by the professors,” Guthrie told UA News while in Tucson to give the 2011 commencement speech. “It all helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”
Who would have thought she’d have the career she’s had – starting on campus at KUAT-TV (now Arizona Public Media), no less, just to have a job in college?
She’s done it well. Figure that once she got her degree from UA, she was one of 634 people to take the Arizona bar exam, earning the highest score among the group. She eventually graduated from Georgetown University, passing the Washington, D.C. bar.
After being an attorney for a few years, she landed on “Court TV” reporting on all things legal, including the Michael Jackson trial. From there she became NBC’s White House correspondent.
Sense the meteoric rise?
From there, she was moved into the third hour of the Today Show and now is sitting alongside Lauer giving the nation’s top news.
“In just a few short years Savannah has become a standout member of the news division as well as the ultimate team player,” Steve Capus, president of NBC News, said in a statement when she took the job.
Also in a statement, Jim Bell, executive producer of Today, said 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.”
That’s no news bulletin to those in Tucson who already know her.