Who Is Katie Couric, Really?

Photo: Rick Rowell, ABC via Getty Images

Katie Couric’s new gig at ABC opens up new doors for her on daytime TV. According to yesterday’s announcement, Couric will jump right in to the ABC News fray, contributing stories starting this summer. Then she’ll be launching her syndicated show in fall 2012. This is getting a lot of attention because Oprah has left some big shoes to fill and some wonder whether Katie Couric can do it.

When Couric left the Today show to join the CBS Evening News, everyone wondered whether her morning show personality would work on the very serious evening news program. Now, everyone wonders whether her more serious evening news presence will work on daytime.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, local station managers are conjuring Jane Pauley and her failed show when asked about Couric’s upcoming enterprise. Part of it may be the ambiguity of Couric’s persona right now. It could be that her work with ABC News over the next year will do more to foment skepticism rather than excitement over the show.

And because Katie Couric is a big name coming to the afternoon line-up post-Oprah, the talk before the premiere may rival the din that preceded her debut at the CBS Evening News anchor desk.

For publicists, there’s also the question of whether this program will provide the kinds of promotional opportunities that Oprah’s program did with shows like her “Favorite Things.”

Time’s Tuned In blog praises Couric for her “ability to connect informally with the home audience,” as she did on Today. But the story also illustrates the problem that Couric has to overcome during the next year. Everyone is comparing her to something or someone else. It may be time to re-introduce Katie Couric to her audience as she is now.