POSTED: 05:43 a.m. HST, Dec 31, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 05:49 a.m. HST, Dec 31, 2010
NEW YORK — Harry Smith finished 2010 by ending his run on CBS' "Early Show" after two stints at the morning anchor desk that totaled 17 years.
In a brief look back before his Friday signoff, Smith described his chief emotion as "one of gratitude, absolute gratitude" for his estimated 4,500 broadcasts. He also thanked his family for putting up with his demanding, wee-hours schedule.
From the archives, Smith was shown, with only slightly more hair on his head, on the 1987 premiere of "CBS This Morning." And in a taped tribute, Oprah Winfrey told him, "You hold the viewers, me being one of them, in the highest of esteem."
"The Early Show" consistently trails its rivals, ratings champ "Today" on NBC and ABC's "Good Morning America." Last month CBS announced a complete host turnover, replacing Smith and co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, as well as weathercaster Dave Price.
The new team starts Monday. It consists of former Saturday "Early Show" anchors Chris Wragge and Erica Hill, as well as weathercaster Marysol Castro, formerly of the "Good Morning America" weekend edition, plus CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor as news reader.
The easygoing Smith, 59, served as co-anchor of "CBS This Morning" from 1987 to 1996, then, after leaving for hosting duties at the A&E network, returned to CBS News in 2002 on the renamed "Early Show."
He will stay at the network as a correspondent and substitute anchor for other newscasts. His parting message to "Early Show" viewers was a reminder that he would be subbing for Katie Couric on Friday's "CBS Evening News."