With tensions rising between the U.S., Russia, and China, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt will hit the road, anchoring a special live broadcast from the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday July 24.
During the broadcast, Holt will give viewers exclusive access to one of the U.S.’ first lines of defense & early warning systems against key adversaries. Holt will also go to a U.S. Air Force early warning radar site on the Aleutian Islands.
Leading up to the special broadcast, Thursday’s edition of Nightly News, Holt will share rare access NBC News was given at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOMM) headquarters in Colorado Springs.
Holt spoke with the commander General Glen VanHerck, who briefed President Joe Biden on the Chinese spy balloon detected over North America earlier this year and provided guidance on when and where to shoot the balloon down.
In the exclusive interview, Gen. VanHerck discusses how artificial intelligence can warn about aerial threats, foreign powers’ evolving missile capabilities, and more. Gen. VanHerck tells Holt, “The environment that we are seeing is the most dynamic and challenging that I’ve seen in my 36 years of service.”
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Holt, who lived in Anchorage when his father served as a technician with the U.S. Airforce during the Vietnam War. Holt will reflect on his experiences during the broadcast.
This isn’t the first road trip Holt and his Nightly News team have taken lately. In May, he anchored the newscast live from South Florida, providing on-the-ground coverage of issues affecting Fort Myers and Miami.
Taking the show on the road (literally) is one example of the new direction in which Holt and his team are taking the broadcast. Another is the recent addition of a commentary section toward the end of the broadcast where Holt discusses the state of the world. The essays are delivered towards the end of many, but not all, Nightly News broadcasts. Holt and the Nightly News team are looking for new ways to engage with his audience despite the limitations of the format and time constraints.
Speaking to Variety in May, Holt said, “With just 22 minutes or so of air — the remainder of the half-hour running time is devoted to commercials — evening newscasts are largely hemmed in by their mandate to give viewers synopses of the day’s most important stories, in a fact-checked and succinct fashion.”
“We have a little more room” to try new things, says Holt. “Audiences are changing, and we try to meet them wherever they are.”