Lauer celebrated 20 years on the job on Friday
Talk about a #FlashbackFriday!
Matt Lauer celebrated his 20th anniversary as co-anchor of the Today show on Friday — and in honor of the big day, viewers got a chance to rewind the clock and take a look back at the journalist’s first day on the job on January 6, 1997.
In the clip, Lauer takes the desk with his first NBC co-anchor Katie Couric, live from studio 1A at Rockefeller Plaza as fans cheered happily with signs outside.
“And welcome to Today on this Monday morning. A very special Monday morning for our friend Matt Lauer,” said Couric. “You want to hear it again? One more time, let’s hear it.”
“This is Today, with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer … and Matt Lauer,” the announcer repeated as the set laughed.
“It feels strange,” Lauer confessed. “A friend of mine said: ‘No matter how many times you’ve been in that seat in the past — and it’s been like 150 times — it will be different on Monday morning.’ And he was right. A couple of times during the show just remind me to breathe. That would help me.”
Couric asked him if he slept alright over the weekend leading up to his first day, and Lauer revealed he started feeling the nerves on Friday after his predecessor Bryant Gumbel‘s final show.
“I wasn’t nervous until Friday — and I want to say I’m looking forward to working with you,” Lauer told Couric. “Friday did make me nervous. I hope you had a chance to see Friday’s show. It was a fitting tribute to Bryant who richly deserves it and it started to get me a little bit nervous.”
“I talked to Bryant over the weekend a couple of times. He was coming down from the emotion of the day,” he added. “He also helped me calm my nerves. So Bryant, if you’re watching, thanks for that, and go back to bed — you’ve earned the extra sleep.”
Lauer, now 59, began working with NBC in the early 90s, filling in as a newsreader on the Today show when needed before joining as a full-time anchor in 1994. He was officially named co-anchor in 1997, working alongside Couric, after Gumbel stepped down.
And the throwback footage isn’t the only way the network celebrated the special anniversary: They also brought along Lauer’s longtime co-host Savannah Guthrie, who is currently on maternity leave, to surprise him.
“Matt, you know this, but I’ve looked up to you all my life, because you’re so old,” Guthrie joked. “I just want to say, we adore you … One of the things that is so wonderful about you is that from the second I walked in here, one of the things I noticed is that Matt knows every single person’s first name and last name. He knows the name of their dog. He knows how their mother is doing.”