With NBC talking to Ryan Seacrest about becoming the next host of "Today," as previously reported, the network is undergoing an identity crisis about the popular morning program, reports the Los Angeles Times.
At the heart of the crisis is whether a Top 40 radio and "American Idol" host can lead a news-focused show during a national crisis, for example, the story says. While NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert has telegraphed his support for Seacrest, others at the network remember when the show had a news-based agenda and would like to see it move in that direction, the piece reports.
The show "has long been more than a news program, shifting like other morning shows to a melange of features and entertainment amid a convivial ‘family’ of on-set personalities," the story says.
Current host Matt Lauer was the subject of criticism when he was hired in 1997, with the local news and interview host considered too lightweight for the program, the article notes.