June 21st, 2015
04:12 PM ET

Lester Holt's son, Stefan Holt, on CNN's Reliable Sources: "...it's an exciting new chapter for my family and for NBC"

Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, NBC 5 Chicago News morning anchor and son of Lester Holt, Stefan Holt, joined senior media correspondent Brian Stelter for an exclusive interview to discuss his father’s new promotion on NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt’s impact at NBC, and the fatherly advice he gave him about having a career in journalism.

Text highlights and a full transcript from the show are available below.

Credit all usage to CNN’s “Reliable Sources”

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS:

Stefan Holt on his father’s response to his promotion: I think that it was excitement.  I think the reaction was certainly one of really feeling honored to take on this sort of role and this sort of responsibility.  And, yeah, the news came while we were on vacation.  We were all traveling together as a family.  So I don't know if you saw the tweet that my dad sent.  We were trying really hard not to talk about work and not about the things that were going on back at home, but when news like that travels to you while you’re on vacation, you celebrate and you look forward to the opportunity that awaits now.  So it was very exciting.

Stefan Holt on his father becoming permanent anchor at Nightly News under challenging circumstances: “…I can tell you, from my perspective as his son, I’m extremely proud.  I’m extremely excited and proud of my dad. I think this is a great opportunity for him.  I'm also excited as a viewer of Nightly News.  Honestly, I don't think anybody would have wanted to get a job under these circumstances… …a lot of eyeballs were on this and a lot of questions were surrounding this as well.  But, at the end of the day, I think this is a chance for my dad to really shine in this role, and that he’s been given a shot to do this.  And I know he takes it extremely seriously and he’s going to do a great job, as he has been doing since February and from whenever he’s filled in.”

Stefan Holt on his father becoming the first solo black anchor of a weekday network newscast: “…looking back at history, this is a big moment.  But I would say that not any of us really define our careers just by race.  I think as a news division you’re not defined by one anchor or one report.  If you look at NBC News, it's a really diverse team, and I’m glad my dad is a part of that diversity.  I'm glad to be a part of that.  And they can bring that to homes and families all across the country. I think this is a really exciting moment that my dad is able to take on this challenge and move it forward.”

Stefan Holt on what his father taught him about journalism: “I remember talking to my dad about making the decision that I wanted to become a journalist that I wanted to become a reporter and work in local news.  And he was extremely supportive and told me about how the business changed just in the last 10 years, last 15 years.  But also about the importance of that role, of being a reporter, of being an anchorman, in these times, where you mentioned earlier in the program, when the nation needs clarity.  When people need clarity and they turn to news to find that clarity. So it’s a really important job.”

Stefan Holt on working with his father at NBC: “…it’s been funny actually, I’m getting the chance now to work at NBC to do things together with him.  And I think you played a clip earlier of when we did a crosstalk, and I tossed to him.  I said, hey Dad.  I didn’t know what to call him.  Do I call him Mr. Holt?  Do I call him NBC's Lester Holt in New York?  I just called him Dad on the air because that was what’s natural and that’s what felt right.  And that’s what I call him; I call him Dad.”

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT:

Stefan Holt on his father's new role

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Welcome back.  Lester Holt has been in limbo ever since February, filling in for Brian Williams.  But starting tomorrow he is the permanent anchor of the NBC Nightly News.  This morning, the weekend Today show bid farewell to him with a tribute and a champagne toast.

And joining me now on the phone on this Father's Day, a very proud son, Stefan Holt, who’s following in his father's footsteps as an anchorman at WMAQ, NBC’s station in Chicago.

Stefan, welcome to the program.

STEFAN HOLT, SON OF LESTER HOLT, WMAQ CHICAGO ANCHOR (via phone):  Hey, thanks, Brian.  How are you?

STELTER:  I thought it was really important today to talk about Lester Holt.  Not just to talk about Brian Williams, but to talk about the new permanent anchor of the Nightly News.  And I wanted to know what was your dad's reaction when you were on vacation this week and you all found out that the promotion was about to be announced?

HOLT:  I think that it was excitement.  I think the reaction was certainly one of really feeling honored to take on this sort of role and this sort of responsibility.  And, yeah, the news came while we were on vacation.  We were all traveling together as a family.  So I don't know if you saw the tweet that my dad sent.  We were trying really hard not to talk about work and not about the things that were going on back at home, but when news like that travels to you while you’re on vacation, you celebrate and you look forward to the opportunity that awaits now.  So it was very exciting.

STELTER:  I’ve said in the program in the past that Lester has kind of been in the dark about what's going on until recently.  He didn't know if he was going to get this job or not.  How do you feel about the fact that he’s getting one of the most important jobs on TV, but in such a bad way?  With Brian Williams doing damage to the NBC brand?

HOLT:  You know, I can tell you, from my perspective as his son, I’m extremely proud.  I’m extremely excited and proud of my dad. I think this is a great opportunity for him.  I'm also excited as a viewer of Nightly News.  Honestly, I don't think anybody would have wanted to get a job under these circumstances.  You know, a lot of eyeballs were on this and a lot of questions were surrounding this as well.  But, at the end of the day, I think this is a chance for my dad to really shine in this role, and that he’s been given a shot to do this.  And I know he takes it extremely seriously and he’s going to do a great job, as he has been doing since February and from whenever he’s filled in.

You know, as a son, it's interesting because I’ve watched my dad's career from an early age, as a kid, and now I see it as well from the perspective as a fellow journalist, as someone whose footsteps I'm trying to follow in as well.  So I think this perspective, it’s really interesting for me to see this, and all I can do is just wish my dad the best, congratulate him, and support him in every way that I can.

STELTER:  You mentioned following in footsteps, and your dad is a historic figure for black journalists.  He is following in the footsteps of Max Robinson, who was the first black co-anchor of a network nightly newscast.  And now your dad is the first solo black anchor of a weekday network nightly newscast.  Have you given much thought to this?  Have you discussed with him the historic nature of his appointment?

HOLT:  Yeah, I think it's exciting and I’m glad so many people are excited about it as well, a lot of viewers of "Nightly News".  And, yeah, looking back at history, this is - this is a big moment.  But I would say that not any of us really define our careers just by race.  I think as a news division you’re not defined by one anchor or one report.  If you look at NBC News, it's a really diverse team, and I’m glad my dad is a part of that diversity.  I'm glad to be a part of that.  And they can bring that to homes and families all across the country.

I think this is a really exciting moment that my dad is able to take on this challenge and move it forward.

STELTER:  It's important to see networks reflect the diversity of the country, its increasing diversity.  What do you want viewers to know about your dad?  I know he’s a bass player because I’ve seen he’s done conference here in New York; I’m never able to go but I’ve seen that.  You also played the bass?

HOLT:  I also play the bass.  You know, I’ve followed my dad in a lot of ways, which is interesting I guess.  It’s interesting we’re talking about this on Father's Day.  I’ve always admired and respected my dad, and from an early age, his passion for aviation, for music, for journalism, all these things rubbed off on me.

I remember as a kid, and teaching me how to play the bass.  Eventually I played bass in high school and in college and I still play a little bit - not nearly as accomplished as he is.  But aviation as well, going to air shows and talking about airplanes with him.

I remember talking to my dad about making the decision that I wanted to become a journalist that I wanted to become a reporter and work in local news.  And he was extremely supportive and told me about how the business changed just in the last 10 years, last 15 years.  But also about the importance of that role, of being a reporter, of being an anchorman, in these times, where you mentioned earlier in the program, when the nation needs clarity.  When people need clarity and they turn to news to find that clarity.

So it’s a really important job.  I know those are all things that he impressed upon me, and it’s just been a real joy as a son to watch his career go in this exciting new direction, and to have him not only as a professional mentor, but as a dad, which I know that's his No. 1 job, is being my dad.

And it’s been funny actually, I’m getting the chance now to work at NBC to do things together with him.  And I think you played a clip earlier of when we did a crosstalk, and I tossed to him.  I said, hey Dad.  I didn’t know what to call him.  Do I call him Mr. Holt?  Do I call him NBC's Lester Holt in New York?  I just called him Dad on the air because that was what’s natural and that’s what felt right.  And that’s what I call him; I call him Dad.

STELTER:  I love hearing that, especially, as you said, especially on Father's Day.  Any plans to celebrate his reintroduction tomorrow?

HOLT:  I don't know if my mom and dad and my brother - my brother lives in New York as well - if they have any plans.  I’m going to work dark and early here in Chicago.  I do the morning news at 4:30 a.m., but I know my parents are extremely happy about this.  My dad’s really excited to get started.  And, look, he’s been doing this since February; I think Monday this is just the official kick-off.  This is where it really begins.  And it’s an exciting new chapter for my family and for NBC.

STELTER:  Stefan Holt, thanks for being here this afternoon.  I appreciate it.

HOLT:  Brian, thanks so much.  Good talking to you.

END INTERVIEW


Topics: Brian Stelter • CNN • Reliable Sources
tmpl
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.