Hoda Kotb Opens up About What She's Excited for With 'Today' Show Replacement for Kathie Lee Gifford

It was announced in February that Jenna Bush Hager will replace Kathie Lee Gifford as the co-host of the TODAY's fourth hour, and co-host Hoda Kotb is sharing her excitement for the morning show's next chapter.

"Jenna is full of depth and wisdom and humor," Kotb told Entertainment Tonight. "For a person who spent her life in front of [the world], she's so strangely down to earth."

"I'm so excited, not for just me but for everybody, to learn more and more about her," she added.

After hosting alongside Gifford for so long, Kotb acknowledged that some aspects of the fourth hour will certainly change, but the changes might not become clear until Bush Hager officially takes up her spot as co-host.

"Pretend like you were dating someone for 11 years and it ended amicably, and then all of a sudden you started dating someone else," she explained. "You're not gonna go to the same restaurants or talk about the same things or you know you'll make it different, but I think you have to figure out what that is by being together."

"So I think, as we go through it together, we'll figure out where are magic moments are."

Kotb and Gifford are known for drinking wine together during their hour of TODAY, and Kotb made it clear that that's one aspect of the show that won't be leaving with Bush Hager's arrival.

"The wine has to stay! I mean it's a party, it will always be a party," she said. "I mean, things will change, but the wine will stay."

Kotb and Gifford began co-hosting the show's fourth hour in 2008, and Gifford announced in December that she will be stepping down in April.

"It's like being in a relationship with someone for 11 years, who you love, and saying, 'Well, you know, were not going to see each other nearly as often," Kotb said of Gifford's impending exit. "That is a hard thing to do."

Gifford will officially step down from her hosting duties on April 5, a moment that's sure to be emotional for everyone involved, with Kotb sharing that working with Gifford "changed my life immeasurably."


"Her absence will be felt throughout NBC in a way that is very profound, and she's left a mark that will be there forever," she said. "Some people come and go...but people will never forget Kathie Lee."

Photo Credit: Getty / Jamie McCarthy