NBC didn’t spill any secrets about the unnamed hourlong prime time news program that Brian Williams is developing when it announced today that former CBS News anchor Harry Smith will join the team as “one of the correspondents.” The show’s exact format is still a mystery, although NBC News president Steve Capus says that Smith’s “vast experience, covering everything from interviews with world leaders to wars and natural disasters, makes him a perfect fit for this new broadcast,” which will also feature NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC anchors and correspondents. NBC’s praise must be refreshing for Smith to hear. In January, CBS pared back his role at The Early Show. CBS put Chris Wragge and Erica Hill in as anchors, replacing Smith and Maggie Rodriguez, in an effort to narrow the ratings gap with NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America. Smith had hosted CBS’s This Morning from 1987 to 1996 and hosted The Early Show since 2002. In a memo to staffers last week, CBS News president David Rhodes called Smith ”a fixture here at CBS News for a generation” who had made “an extraordinary contribution.”
Erica Hill’s star is rising fast at CBS. In an overhaul of the anchor team at The Early Show, which has been trailing the morning program competition, co-anchors Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez and weather anchor Dave Price are out. Hill, who joined The Early Show 10 months ago as news anchor of the weekday program and co-anchor of the weekend edition with Chris Wragge, will now co-anchor the weekday Early Show along with Wragge. Marysol Castro, formerly of ABC’s Good Morning America weekend edition, has been tapped as the new weather anchor, while Jeff Glor will serve as news anchor. The changes will go in effect on Jan. 3. “The Early Show is an important element of CBS News,” CBS News and Sports president McManus said. “We constantly focus on how to improve the broadcast, and we think we have a terrific combination in Erica, Chris, Jeff and Marysol.” According to CBS News’ release, Smith and Price, who had been anchoring The Early Show since 2002, and Rodriguez, who replaced Hannah Storm in 2008, will stay with CBS News in a different capacities.