Curry: ‘Today’s’ voice of intelligence, compassion

Women's Impact Report 2011: Ann Curry

After being the ultimate NBC utility player for nearly 15 years, Ann Curry says her ascension to co-anchor on the “Today” show represents a whole new ballgame, despite plenty of on-the-job training subbing for Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira.

Filling in is not the same as owning the job,” says Curry, 54, who now shares the spotlight with Matt Lauer. “I’m now growing to own the position as co-anchor. It’s a deeper pressure and a brighter spotlight.”

As the show’s longtime leading news voice, Curry’s passion for “meaningful work” took her to war zones and disaster areas including Iraq, Pakistan, Congo and Sudan. She’s logged close to 50 trips abroad this year.

“I believe if we do our jobs with the pure motive to inform people so that they can have power over their lives, the world will be better,” she says.

Curry will now be spending more time Stateside — “I’m going to step it up with more national reporting” — but she isn’t turning in her passport. “I can’t keep up the same pace of foreign reporting, but I’ve been assured by NBC I will continue to have those opportunities because there’s recognition that the work has meaning.”

Curry says she’s relishing “having a voice in the direction of our broadcast.” Her impact is paying off: The show is up 2% in total viewers and in the key 25-54 demo and currently holds its biggest lead (703,000) over “Good Morning America” in the demo in seven seasons.

In the year ahead, Curry says she wants to pump up both the serious and lighthearted sides of “Today.” “I want to do journalism of meaning, but at the same time do television that blows people’s minds,” she says.

Her mission remains the same as the day she joined the broadcast: “I want this work that I do to help others. I know there’s always the probability that someone watching will benefit in some way and that’s enough for me.”

Title: Co-anchor of NBC’s “Today”
Role model: Walter Cronkite “In my career he’s been the one I’ve always admired”
Career mantra: “Help people”
Leisure pursuits: Photography, reading and baking
Philanthropic passion: Supporting veterans, “America needs to step up for our men and women in uniform. If we all did that, it would make a tremendous difference.”