You just never know where Lester Holt is going to pop up. NBC's utility anchorman has been on just about every news show on NBC.
Mornings, Evenings, Nights and Weekends, Holt has done them all.
The NY Daily News reports that when “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams was sidelined for a month this summer by knee replacement surgery, Holt filled in.
Filling in for Williams, he says, sparked an unusual thought.
“After about two weeks,” he says, “I looked at my wife and said, ‘This is strange. This is what a regular job must feel like.’ ”
Actually, Holt has several regular jobs at NBC. One is co-anchor of “Weekend Today,” on which he will mark his 10th anniversary Sunday.
That’s remarkable in a media game that these days tends to be very fluid.
“You can stay with a company for 10 years,” says Holt. “But 10 years in the same job? No way.”
Especially a job he didn’t expect or aspire to. He got it, he notes, after former co-anchor David Bloom died while reporting from Iraq.
“The way I came to this job is one you don’t forget,” Holt says. “I also had to learn the game. My background was in hard news, and when I got to ‘Weekend Today,’ it wasn’t always easy for me to make it about myself. That felt like violating what I’d done my whole career.”
Eventually, though, he says, he got comfortable with the “Today” style of personalizing stories and came to see it as an opportunity.
“I can put myself in the viewer’s place,” he says. “We can tell the big stories of the day, report them and have some fun with them.”
It’s also not like he has abandoned hard news. He anchors the weekend “Nightly News,” fills in for anchors like Williams and does reporting from almost anyplace in the world where there’s major news.
“I sometimes joke that I feel like a freelancer,” he says. “But to me, there’s nothing like the feeling of getting on a plane and landing in a place where a big story is breaking, whether it’s the Japan tsunami or the turmoil in Egypt or anywhere else.”
So even though in some ways he’s NBC’s sixth man, he says that’s okay.
“Sure,” he says, “all of us aspire to a big anchor job, Monday to Friday.
“But that position also ties you down, so I look at it like this: I get to get out of the building. The best times I’ve had in my 30 years in journalism have happened outside the building.”
On Sunday morning, however, when “Weekend Today” celebrates his first decade as anchor, he will be in the house. Just like a regular job.