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The Viewers Speak: Why I’ve Left the ‘Today’ Show

The AP’s David Bauder is out with his story of regular Joes and Joans talking about why they’ve stopped watching the “Today” show. Bauder sent this Tweet in late September looking for input. And he got it. (Last week we put it to you, asking why you think “Today” is losing viewers. The poll’s still open if you’d like to vote, or see current results).

As of the week of Sept. 24, “Today” had lost 961,000 viewers (-18%) from the year ago period, and it’s down -29% in the key adult news demo. Bauder found a range of responses for “Today’s” drop, from the format, to story selection, to the host changes, especially the hiring and firing of Ann Curry and what, if anything, Matt Lauer had to do with it.

  • Susan Wurtzel, 57, Germantown, MD: “Ann’s interview style was like chalk on a board to me. When she replaced Meredith (Vieira), I tried to adjust and accept, but she just didn’t work for me. Katie (Couric) and Meredith were relatable, empathetic and funny. Ann just seemed out of place.” (“Wurtzel tunes to CBS most mornings,” Bauder writes)
  • William Runge, 46, a manager at an educational cable network, Winston-Salem, NC: “The PR machine at NBC spent an enormous amount of time and effort convincing me that the ‘Today’ show team was actually part of my family, ‘America’s First Family,’ These did feel like family members. So this is how you are going to treat a member of your family?”
  • Lyle Nelson, 40, a salesman from Avondale, AZ, on Lauer: He’s “not someone I’d like to have a beer with.”
  • John Friia, 20, aspiring journalist from Malverne, NY: “There is something about Matt Lauer, whether or not he was the reason for Curry’s firing, that has changed and I do not like watching the show anymore.”

Bauder found a third of people who responded to the Twitter request “cited its content for their discontent.”

  • Joan Pierce, 64, nurse from Oklahoma City: “I don’t care what Lindsay Lohan does.”
  • Dan Laufer, 35, a sports marketer from Washington, D.C.: “I used to be a regular ‘Today’ show viewer but got tired of their formula.”
  • Zach Beale, 23, college student in Savannah: “I was fed up with the lack of actual news reporting, and more intense focus on silly, irrelevant things like women’s fashion or the newest celebrity’s recipe for a dinner I could never find the time or money to cook.”
  • Isabelle Langelier, 40, manager at a drug company from Montreal: “It made me feel sick for her. And it made me turn the channel, probably permanently.”

And while some viewers have switched to “Good Morning America” or “CBS This Morning,” others haven’t found what they’re looking for:

  • Taren Robin, 48, from Paris, KY: “In today’s doom and gloom news programs, the ‘Today’ show gave me a lift to get my day started. I don’t get that lift anymore, and I am in mourning over the fact. I haven’t found anything I like better to take its place.”

And still others, are sticking with “Today,” despite the changes:

  • Miriam Sajecki, a marketer from Staten Island: “What I loved about the show were the hosts, reporters and the stories … Some of that has changed in that I miss the chemistry that was displayed with the prior hosts. I will continue to watch the ‘Today’ show and wake up to it every weekday.”
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