For decades, America has turned to Katie Couric for the news. She has interviewed the most influential people, covered the most significant events, all in the same trustworthy Katie Couric fashion that millions have come to love. This August, the Nantucket Cottage Hospital has turned to Katie to host this summer’s Boston Pops concert on Jetties Beach. In celebration of the event, N Magazine spoke to Katie about her love for Nantucket, her inspiring advocacy work for cancer research and awareness and about some of the highlights from her award-winning career.
N: You’ve hosted the Boston Pops on Nantucket several times. What do you love about this event?
KATIE COURIC: It’s a fantastic night. The setting is beautiful. I love to support the Boston Pops because they really are an American institution. There is such a nice feeling to the event, with families and people coming together to enjoy each other with beautiful music and fireworks. It feels like it’s out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
N: You originally co-hosted the event with beloved Nantucket summer resident Tim Russert.
KATIE COURIC: I was very touched when Tim initially asked me to be the co-host with him. That was such a special night. I know how much he loved Nantucket and he loved the Pops and the whole occasion, so I think it’s just especially meaningful for me to continue that tradition that was started with Tim.
N: In terms of your time on Nantucket, can you share with us some of your favorite island activities?
KATIE COURIC: Let’s see, I love biking there. I love the beaches, obviously. I love Aunt Leah’s Fudge Shop. My daughter Ellie and I go to Cisco Brewery and Bartlett’s Farm. I love Provisions and their “Turkey Terrific.” I love walking around the docks and looking at the boats, and trying to get an invitation to come aboard for a cocktail. I love Main Street just because it’s great for people watching. Oh, and I love going to the Summer House and getting to play the piano with Jamie [Howarth]. He’s so much fun and generous to let me sit next to him and play the upper keys.
N: You are such an inspiring advocate for cancer research and awareness. Can you tell us more specifically about your efforts and where your inspiration comes from?
KATIE COURIC: Nothing is as motivating as a profound personal loss. When my husband died, I felt so powerless during the course of his illness. Once we lost Jay, I wanted to try to help other people who I knew felt equally, if not even more, powerless than I did. I felt very strongly about trying to share what I had learned over the course of Jay’s illness, about the fact that colon cancer in particular is highly preventable. There are screenings and opportunities that I wanted people to take advantage of. Then I wanted to extend my advocacy to all kinds of cancer because of the shrinking federal budget for cancer research. I wanted to use whatever pull I had to increase awareness and hopefully motivate people to support cancer research. There are so many great ideas out there and so many incredibly talented scientists, but only one in ten meritorious research proposals is funded. We have a huge gap between exciting, potentially groundbreaking ideas and the money to support those ideas.
N: Have you made strides bridging that gap?
KATIE COURIC: Stand Up to Cancer has been very gratifying for me because we have raised about $280 million. More importantly, we are trying to change the paradigm of cancer research by getting scientists to actually work together. That’s really our mandate: Scientists have to share their resources and wisdom to try to come up with more effective ways to battle this disease. They are starting to make significant strides and I think the idea of pooling our resources is really starting to bear fruit and lead to some very exciting new breakthroughs.
N: Over the course of your career, you’ve interviewed some of the most influential people of our time. Who’s impressed you most?
KATIE COURIC: There are a lot of incredibly admirable people I’ve had the opportunity to interview from all different walks of life. David McCullough is one, because he is such a prolific author and erudite, but also a gentleman. I’ve always loved Hugh Jackman because he is so kind and generous and fun. Sandra Day O’Connor, who I thought was highly intelligent and had such an interesting background growing up on a ranch in Arizona. Whoopi Goldberg because she always speaks her mind in such an unabashed way. I really liked interviewing Lil Wayne, because it’s always interesting to interview somebody who is so different than you and to learn from them and understand their experiences. And Hillary Clinton because I think she is so intelligent and has always had grace under pressure.
N: Your interview with Sarah Palin arguably changed the tides of her political career. What was your philosophy going into that interview?
KATIE COURIC: I think that was an important interview because people didn’t know much about Governor Palin at the time, and I felt that it was really important for voters to understand what made her tick, her political philosophy, how she would govern and where she stood on a variety of issues. I know she feels I asked her “gotcha questions,” but honestly I was just trying to paint a portrait for the electorate of someone who was not that well known and who would be a heartbeat
away from the presidency. I felt that I asked questions that would show her accumulated knowledge, her political experience and her capacity to be a critical thinker. That’s basically what guided me in that interview.
N: Media as a whole is experiencing something of a revolution, with print leading the charge toward going digital. How do you see television evolving in the next ten years?
KATIE COURIC: I think that there will always be a place for quality television, but I do think increasingly you are seeing quality content migrate to digital platforms. People consume information how they want, where they want, when they want. Having information online provides an opportunity for people to consume it. People aren’t coming to the medium, the medium is coming to them, and as a result I think that more and more we’re going to see an expanding digital marketplace.
N: So many media personalities and executives have homes on Nantucket. Do you ever have any plans to have a little island cottage?
KATIE COURIC: Well right now I have a house in East Hampton because it’s a little easier to get to for me from New York. If I do ever get a place in Nantucket, it will definitely be a place where I would like to spend more time. I definitely hope to at least make an annual excursion every summer.
N: Katie thank you so much for taking the time with us.
KATIE COURIC: Of course. I’m so happy to help. See you at the Pops!
KATIE COURIC STYLE, HAIR, MAKEUP AND FASHION CREDITS:
Stylist: Cynthia Carr Gardner
Make Up: Josie Torres
Hair: Dana Fiore
Dress: David Meister
Cuff: Jordan Alexander