You could call Monday night a day of welcoming.
Welcome back to Channel 2, Scott Brown.
Welcome to your new permanent home at NBC, Lester Holt.
The two newsmen who are known to try and avoid the limelight couldn’t have done that Monday with Brown returning to the air after a nine-month absence and Holt finally getting the word “interim” taken away and becoming the official anchor of the “NBC Nightly News.”
Brown returned Monday with his first on-air piece since returning to work part-time a few weeks ago. It was a lengthy report on the chances the Buffalo Police Department eventually will be able to wear body cameras designed to keep police in line and community members from falsely blaming them when video shows otherwise.
It was a strong piece, with everyone in power – the mayor, the district attorney, the head of the police union -- and an influential member of the community agreeing that it would be a good idea even if it could be a very costly one.
After the three or four-minute piece was over – and that’s a very long piece by TV news standards – Brown was shown on the set being welcomed back home to Channel 2 by co-anchors Maryalice Demler and Scott Levin.
Brown explained that he had health issues that kept him off the job since the fall and thanked well-wishers for their thoughts and prayers.
“I’m feeling much, much better,” he said. “I’m delighted to be here.”
Levin added “I’m smelling many more Emmys.”
The anchor was referring to Brown’s ability to do award-winning stories. I’m not sure if Monday’s story will qualify, but it was emblematic of the kind of good work he has done over the years.
Once Channel 2’s news ended, Holt anchored his first newscast as the official anchor of NBC’s newscast four days after the network announced that Brian Williams had been demoted to a job on cable's MSNBC.
NBC's nightly newscast usually does very well here, with an assist from the strong lead-in that Channel 2’s 6 p.m. news gives it.
Holt spent much of the day doing interviews with reporters for national publications, all of which painted him as a hard-working anchor and reporter loved by his colleagues and deserving of the promotion. The pieces also all mentioned the history Holt was making as the first African-American to be the regular solo anchor of a nightly national broadcast network weekday newscast.
Like many viewers, I was expecting Holt to say something on the newscast about the honor of officially being the “Nightly News” anchor.
It was a night loaded with mostly depressing news, except for a report on Taylor Swift’s victory over Apple in a battle to get artists paid.
By 6:59 p.m., I was wondering if Holt had just tired of talking about himself.
But then he delivered a brief but extremely classy statement about taking over “Nightly News.”
He noted the program had a new name, he was honored to be the new anchor and he thanked viewers for their loyalty in a difficult time.
And then he said something that spoke to why he is so well-liked by colleagues and viewers.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to my friend and colleague Brian Williams for his kind words of support,” said Holt.
He didn't have to do that.
It is hard to imagine a classier statement.
I imagine that many NBC news viewers are rooting for Holt much harder than Williams is rooting for him.
However, Holt’s Monday premiere didn’t win the night here, which is unusual. “The CBS Evening News” – which had the strongest local lead-in from Channel 4 -- was No. 1 here with a 6.4 rating, with NBC second with a 5.9 and ABC’s “World News Tonight” third with a 4.5 rating.