The Time Lester Holt was ‘Pushed Toward the Door’ at WBBM

By Chris Ariens 

Lester Holt made his debut tonight as just the fourth solo anchor in the 45 years of NBC Nightly News. But his rise to one of the rarest jobs in TV was not in his sights. “There are only threee of these jobs and none of them were open, or would be open for a long time, so it was not on my radar,” Holt tells our sister site TVNewser.

It’s even harder to imagine when you realize Holt was “weeks from unemployment” from his previous job. In 2000, Holt was the main anchor at WBBM in Chicago, where he’d worked for 14 years. “I was demoted and pushed toward the door,” he says.

Holt joined MSNBC as an anchor in 2000, was named anchor of NBC’s weekend Today show in 2003, added weekend Nightly News in 2007 and Dateline NBC in 2011. “You can’t plan your life sometimes and things happen for whatever reason. But I’m just gratified that I was in a position that my whole career had prepared me for a role like this”

“I look back and, what a 15 years this has been. I got some advice a long time ago that you always want to prepare yourself if doors open at weird times for weird reasons. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Holt also discusses why he won’t also have the managing editor title, and what he said to Brian Williams when the two talked last Thursday.