A tearful Ann Curry said goodbye after one year as co-host of NBC's "Today" show Thursday, saying, "this is not as I expected to ever leave this couch."
She announced her departure at the end of her two-hour shift, ending a week of awkward television when she continued working after word spread that NBC was looking to oust her. The popular morning show is facing its biggest challenge in the ratings from ABC's resurgent "Good Morning America" since the mid-1990s.
"For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line but, man, I did try," she said, breaking down.
Ms. Curry started as the show's news anchor in 1997, and was promoted last June following Meredith Vieira's exit. But things never really clicked with co-host Matt Lauer. "Today" hadn't lost a week in the ratings since 1996 but this spring lost four times.
Ms. Curry will remain at NBC News, saying she's been given a "fancy new title" to lead a reporting team. NBC said she will be anchor-at-large and national and international correspondent. Her work will occasionally resurface on "Today," and Mr. Lauer said she will be in London with the show for the Olympics.
He sat next to Ms. Curry, Al Roker and Natalie Morales on the couch as Ms. Curry choked back tears and apologized for being a "sob sister."
"It's not goodbye, not by a long shot," a grim-faced Mr. Lauer said.
Each of her colleagues recalled some of Ms. Curry's reporting from her "Today" tenure, but there was no video tribute. The "Today" website displayed "15 top Ann moments spanning her 15 years on TV," asking viewers to vote on their favorite.
"To all of you watching, thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me touch yours," she said.
NBC's Savannah Guthrie, who co-hosts the 9 a.m. segment of the show, is expected to replace Ms. Curry.
First Published June 28, 2012 2:15 PM