Bryant Gumbel is the former host of NBC's "Today Show". For his coverage of a wide array of events, including Superbowls, the 1988 Olympics, political conventions and Super-Power Summit meetings, he has received numerous awards; among the many are the NAACP Image award and the Edward R. Murrow Award.
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When sportscaster Bryant Gumbel began hosting the Today show, in 1982, he seemed like a long shot. Gumbel, who had virtually no news experience, was following in the footsteps of former early-morning anchors John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Hugh Downs, and Barbara Walters; it was impossible to predict that he'd one day become one of NBC's most valuable newscasters. A smooth, incisive interviewer who worked seamlessly with co-host Katie Couric, he won Emmys and high ratings for more than a decade. Often controversial, Gumbel has battled with David Letterman, has been embarrassed by an arrogant memo in which he dissed Willard Scott, and has been stung by criticism over his handling of the 1988 Olympics. In late 1994, when his three-year, $7-million NBC contract expired, rumors flew that the smooth talker was about to switch networks and time slots. Finally, after fifteen years as the co-anchor of Today, Gumbel announced that he would be leaving NBC's morning show at the end of 1996. A bidding war for his services erupted between all major networks in the ensuing couple of months following his retirement (he was replaced by Today newsreader Matt Lauer). Gumbel ended all the bickering by signing a rather attractive five-year contract with CBS News that netted him $5 million a year (an amount nearly double what NBC ever ponied up), his own prime-time news magazine, Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel, and his own company for syndicated programming development.
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