Last June, Lester Holt made history, becoming the first African-American solo news anchor of a nightly news broadcast. But he’s been on the front lines of the world’s biggest stories for decades. He joined NBC News in 2000 and quickly rose to the top of the ranks as the go-to guy in huge situations.
Rhiannon Ally and I traveled to New York to interview Lester on the set inside the famed 30 Rockefeller Plaza. With his name on the desk for a year now, we wanted to see what the newsman does outside of reporting the news.
“This is my little home for about a half hour every weeknight,” explained Lester.
In the few hours we spent with him, it’s clear he’s a busy man. From editorial meetings to planning for long-form stories, Lester is always working. It’s no surprise. He spent more than a decade working an ironman shift on the weekends, anchoring The Today Show in the mornings and Nightly News in the evenings as well as hosting NBC’s magazine show Dateline.
He described his promotion to the Nightly News anchor chair as bittersweet.
“I was very comfortable in my roles here doing the weekends both morning and nights even though it was a long day and Dateline. But this opportunity presented itself,” he said.
NBC removed former anchorman Brian Williams after accusations swirled accusing him of embellishing the facts. Lester is focused on the future. In the past year, he’s been all over the world, from the Paris attacks to the massacre in Orlando. The day we met with him, he jetted out of town right after the evening broadcast for a story.
“I’m a reporter at heart. Being a reporter is the highest calling in what we do,” he told us.
He and his wife Carol have been married for more than 30 years. They have two sons. Stefan decided to follow his father’s footsteps and is an anchor for the local NBC station WNBC. Their son Cameron is in finance.
Rhiannon and I have been married almost 10 years and work side by side every night anchoring 41 Action News. We asked Lester if he could ever anchor with his wife.
“That’s a good question! She’s a perfectionist. I’m less so. I know who would be the boss in that relationship. Could we work together? I don’t think so. I think we could work in other roles, but I think what you guys have is awesome, it’s terrific!”
Lester is also a huge fan of jazz and loves to play the bass guitar and standup bass. He hasn’t had a chance to check out Kansas City’s famed jazz scene yet, but hopes too. Right now, he’s focused on his passion, telling stories. Now, he has a platform that draws millions around the world every weeknight.
“I love doing stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things that they never thought they could,” he said.
Watch the full interview in the video below.
Mike Marusarz can be reached at email@example.com.