to the majority of the nation, Kotb is known as the easy-going, fun-loving host who likes a morning glass of wine and human interest stories. As she prepares to make her promotion permanent, however, people are learning that there's a lot more to Kotb than they've seen so far.
For one thing, Kotb has a long resume as a serious journalist prior to her time on Today. She majored in Broadcast Journalism at Virginia Tech, and she says she was the only one of her friends not to find a job right out of college. Kotb drove all over the south-east in her mother's car, going to interview after interview.
Kotb faced a lot of rejection in that early stage. In a 2016 Sirius XM interview with Savannah Guthrie, who she now co-anchors with, Kotb said she got her first job in Greenville, Mississippi. She described the heart-pounding experience of showing her audition reel to Stan Sandroni, who went on to become her mentor.
“When it was over he looked at me, and I’ll never forget it, he goes, ‘Hilda?’ And I said, ‘Yes?’ He said, ‘I like what I see.’ I said, ‘You do?!’ I was like crying, and the man hired me on the spot that day.”
Kotb worked for several stations during her first few years on the job, the longest one being WWL-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1992 to 1998. It was at that point that she finally caught the eye of NBC.
Kotb was hired as a correspondent on Dateline in 1998. She worked there for years, covering serious material that would never make it on a morning show.
In 2007, NBC moved Kotb to Today as they announced the show would be expanded to four hours. The next year, they hired her partner in crime, Kathie Lee Gifford. The addition of the casual final hour of the show was an instant success, and Kotb won a Daytime Emmy for her work in 2010.
An important fact many people don't know is that, in addition to replacing Lauer alongside Savannah Guthrie, Kotb will continue to co-host the 10 o'clock hour of Today. This demanding schedule might have scared off a lesser TV personality, but Kotb has proven over the years that she has the chops.
Today continues to enjoy a ratings surge since the firing of Matt Lauer, proving that the bump wasn't a passing phase.