On the set of NBC’s “Today Show” in New York on Friday, WWL-TV anchor Karen Swensen and former WWL anchor Hoda Kotb raised glasses of wine and exchanged happy chit-chat for an hour beginning at 10 a.m.
In New Orleans, though, viewers who tuned in to WDSU-TV hoping to see the on-air reunion of two of local broadcasting’s more popular personalities were surprised to find “The Queen Latifah Show” filling their screens.
WDSU was blunt about its decision to black out the final hour of “Today,” regularly hosted by Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, whose seat on Friday was filled by guest host Swensen, the local CBS affiliate’s current evening anchor.
“Our decision not to air the fourth hour of the ‘Today Show’ follows a longstanding practice. WDSU does not enable the promotion of anchors on other local television stations through roles as hosts of programs on our television station,” read a statement posted on the station’s Facebook page. “We regret the circumstances that required us to make this decision.”
WDSU is a strong No. 2 in ratings to WWL, the market’s dominant broadcast-news outlet.
WWL is a newsgathering partner of The New Orleans Advocate.
The two women spent the first several minutes of the show reminiscing about how they met and promoting the city where they are each known to viewers on a first-name basis.
Swensen gave Kotb several items with local flair, including a black-and-gold parasol, king cake — which she noted was almost impossible to find at the start of summer — and a bottle of Bobby Hebert Cajun Cannon wine.
The explanation of the decision to forgo airing the program did little to appease many of those expecting to see the duo in the same studio, probably for the first time since Kotb left WWL for NBC News in the late ’90s.
Nearly 800 comments were attached to the station’s Facebook statement as of 7 p.m. Few seemed to support the decision.
“So the whole country gets to see someone from New Orleans on a national show except the people that want to see it most, New Orleanians??” one commenter wrote. “Pretty pathetic WDSU.”
“Better change your Motto from ‘ON YOUR SIDE’ to ‘YOU’LL WATCH WHAT WE WANT YOU TO,’ ” another commenter said, playing on the station’s slogan.