Before Lester Holt begins his three-day stretch of hosting Dateline, Weekend Today and the weekend editions of Nightly News, he stops in Dallas to talk with Nexstar executives and news directors.
Lester sat down with us to talk about those early days.
His 35 years in local and network television didn't begin in front of a camera.
“My first paying job in the business was a disc jockey, country and western, but it was a DJ job,” Lester reflects. “News was really a product of needing a full-time job and they offered me a chance to work full-time as a reporter and I got the bug."
His passion sustained him through 14 years in local news, most of it in Chicago during a time of serious racial tension.
"I do news. That's all I claim to do. It was a lot of pressure in the community at the time,” said Lester. “So I just put my head down and thought, ‘I'll let my work speak for itself’ and ultimately I think it did."
Ultimately his talent and work ethic shot him to the national stage.
His mother often points out to him, that this was his destiny.
"She always reminds me of this,” Lester recalled. “She says ‘when you were a little boy’… I think 6 or 7 years old, I turned to her and said ‘how come there's no colored people on TV?’ (We were colored then) and she always reminds me of that and now here I am, on TV.”
He's not the only member of the Holt family on TV.
Lester and his wife of more than 30 years, have two grown sons, one of whom has joined the family business, anchoring in Chicago.
"He used to come hang with me on the set of the Today show when he was in high school and I always thought ‘you're a teenager. Sleep in. It's Saturday.’ But he would come and hang with the crew,” Lester remembered. “He picked it up honestly."
Lester is careful not to overwhelm his son with too much career advice or instruction.
"I also don't give him a lot of advice because he's definitely better than I am," Lester laughs. “He’s certainly better than I was at his age.”
Although he has covered stories around the world and accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime, Lester remains humble and grateful.
"They pay me a really nice salary to do what I do and so I've got to be there for them,” Lester said. “So I just want people to know me as a hardworking guy that likes to tell stories."
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