CBS Evening News could not get out of third place in the ratings with the star power of Katie Couric. So the network is going the homegrown route with its new anchor, Scott Pelley, a 22-year veteran of the news division whose tireless reporting has helped make 60 Minutes the most-watched news program on television. We asked the Texas native to share his thoughts on becoming the face of CBS News, beginning June 6.
TV Guide Magazine: CBS News chairman Jeff Fager says he wants the other news shows on the network to have the importance and impact of 60 Minutes. How do you achieve that?
Pelley: We're not talking about a format transplant. We're talking about three things: original reporting, unique insights into the news and great storytelling. We want to do a hard-news broadcast, but we want viewers to have the same feeling after watching the evening news that they have after 60 Minutes, which is, "I didn't know that" and "This has been worth my time."
TV Guide Magazine: The format has really been the star of 60 Minutes in recent years. Do you think you've made a personal connection with the audience?
Pelley: Yes. One of the great things that has happened in the last few years is that people have started calling me "Scott." They used to come up to me and say, "You're the guy on 60 Minutes." But now they say, "Hey, Scott, that interview on Sunday was really great." That suggests they feel familiarity with me and that I'm one of their pals. I'm overjoyed by that.
TV Guide Magazine: But you resisted calling the newscast CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley.
Pelley: That's true. In my opinion, it isn't about the anchor. It's about all the men and women who work on the broadcast all around the world. One of the problems with being a TV correspondent is you get an enormous amount of credit for the work of others. Everything I do at 60 Minutes has numbers of producers, cameramen, soundmen and editors who bring their talent to the story. They don't get the credit they deserve.
TV Guide Magazine: You were overruled on the title.
Pelley: I was, and I suspect that may happen again. As Jeff Fager said, "It was CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite. If it's good enough for Walter..."
TV Guide Magazine: You have a classic style as a broadcaster — your intonation and voice are very traditional. Has anyone ever told you to loosen up?
Pelley: Not so much. Thank you for calling it classic and not old-fashioned. I guess my style is the result of 53 years of living in the world and practicing journalism. The voice is the voice. I hope the audience is comfortable with it.
TV Guide Magazine: CBS executives once told us that viewers didn't want the voice of God on the evening news.
Pelley: How about the voice of Scott? That would be better. I'm going to try on the broadcast not to be overbearing. I'm going to try to have a conversation with the viewer at home.
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