Savannah Guthrie

Savannah Guthrie steps into the giant X-ray machine that is morning television as she settles in to Today's coanchor chair this morning. Viewers will get to know her well over the next few months, but now chief NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd — who once shared his beat and a daily MSNBC show with Guthrie — tells us what to expect.

"Savannah is one of the smartest people going without throwing it in your face," he says. "She's a cool kid without being in a clique — she'd be comfortable hanging out with geeks like me in high school. She is the opposite of what people expect TV people to be. She is normal. She has had the ups and downs in life that happen to everybody."

She also has a genuine affinity for pop culture. "She is not going to be faking it when she's blabbering about Real Housewives," adds Todd. "She is the worst junk TV watcher. She kept me pop-culturally relevant on all of the reality shows." Guthrie is also a big American Idol fan and Todd suspects she harbors a secret fantasy of being on the program — he's heard a recording of Guthrie playing guitar and singing one of her own compositions. "It was pretty good," he says. "I remember it being very thoughtful."

Todd believes Guthrie's authenticity also comes from having had a career outside of television. In 1999, at age 27, she left her local news job in her hometown of Tucson to attend Georgetown Law Center. She practiced law in Washington, D.C., for a year and had an offer to clerk for a federal judge. Instead, she decided to take one more shot at journalism and was hired by Court TV; she became the cohost of Today's third hour last year. "She hasn't lived her whole adult life for this moment," Todd says about Guthrie's quick ascension. "She would have been perfectly happy walking away from television for another career."

But Guthrie knows she's now a part of broadcast history as she becomes the seventh female coanchor in the 60-year run of Today. "Every morning when I'm coming in I...just feel thankful," she said after joining the program. "Today is one of those things that's bigger than any single person. It is a national treasure."

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!