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Katie Couric: Can the former TV newscaster make it as a talk show host?

Katie Couric struggled with ratings as a TV news anchor. She’s about to launch a new afternoon talk show aimed at women, but audience tastes are changing and she faces lots of competition.

By Daniel B. WoodStaff writer / September 9, 2012

Katie Couric sits with audience members during a taping of her new talk show "Katie," which debuts on Monday, Sept. 10.

Ida Mae Astute/Disney-ABC Domestic TV/AP

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Los Angeles

Katie Couric’s new afternoon talk show debuts Monday as pundits and public ask the burning question: “Since she was too chatty for evening news, will she be too newsy for afternoon chat?”

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Her first week of guests include Jessica Simpson, who will talk about the challenge of losing pregnancy weight; Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia grad student who gained national attention over the summer for losing parts of her limbs to flesh-eating bacteria; and Jennifer Lopez, who will talk about life after “American Idol.” Ms. Couric will also introduce a segment called “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), as she takes a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with racecar driver Danica Patrick.

Later segments include a bucket list of to-dos, and “Women Who Should Be Famous.”

“Katie” – broadcast live from New York with a studio audience – will be aired at 3 p.m. in most markets, produced and distributed by Disney-ABC. Couric also has a separate deal to appear occasionally on ABC News.

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The answer to how well this show does will say a lot about American TV, changing audience tastes, talk show hosts, ratings, and network income, analysts say.  

After 15 years at NBC’s “Today Show” and five years as anchor and news director of “The CBS Evening News,” can Couric’s combination of personality, perkiness, and gravitas draw viewers, especially in a schedule jammed with alternatives? Those will include former “Survivor” host Jeff Probst, comedian Steve Harvey, Britain’s Trish Goddard, and the return of veteran Ricki Lake.

Some suggest the answer may not say anything about Couric’s abilities at all.

“Maybe there is a saturation point that will nullify her success, which has nothing to do with her intrinsic qualities,” says Len Shyles, professor of communication at Villanova University. “Steve Harvey, Maury Povich, The View, The Five, Dr. Phil, Morning Joe, Imus on cable, The Today Show, Kelly Ripa. On and on. The glut is obvious. She will likely fail, not because of her, but because of the nature of the beast.”

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