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Soledad O'Brien: 1966—: Reporter

"goddess To The Geeks"

By 1997 O'Brien and The Site had attracted somewhat of a cult following. The online magazine Salon-.com named her "Goddess to the Geeks," and she was receiving up to 2,000 e-mails a week. Even NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw was a fan: Brokaw told the Washington Post that he found O'Brien "cute and so bright and so mature in her broadcasting skills. There she is, totally at ease, very articulate and commanding of the subject matter and the environment around her, and yet able to do all this in a user-friendly way." Inevitably, a programming shake-up at the fledgling network led to cancellation of The Site, and O'Brien was given the anchor slot of Morning Blend, a two-hour news talk show that aired Saturdays and Sundays. From there, MSNBC partner NBC invited her to guest-host on weekend edition of Today show, which was her first experience in live national television. She was named permanent co-anchor of the weekend show in July of 1999.

In 2000, O'Brien was named as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People In The World" annual list. She earned a more enduring honor that same year when she finished her Harvard degree, without taking any time off from her job at NBC. A resident of New York City, O'Brien finished her Harvard coursework by spending Monday through Wednesday at her sister's Boston-area home. Her semester also coincided with her first trimesters of pregnancy, and O'Brien told Parents magazine that she "underestimated how exhausting pregnancy can be. I'd walk around Harvard Yard thinking, I would pay one of these undergraduates $20 if I could just lie down in her bed for 20 minutes!"

Sofia Elizabeth, O'Brien's child with investment-banker husband Brad Raymond, was born in October of 2000. She still hosts Weekend Today, and files stories for NBC's Nightly News. Before Today co-anchor Katie Couric renewed her contract in 2001, O'Brien, who occasionally served as substitute anchor on the week-day show, was mentioned as a possible successor. She and her husband are committed to staying in New York City, in part to avoid for Sofia the kind of suburban isolation O'Brien experienced as a youth on Long Island, as she told Parents. "I want to make sure she knows many different kinds of people."


Entertainment Weekly, January 10, 1997.

Parents, October 2001.

People, June 16, 1997; May 8, 2000.

San Francisco Chronicle,April 15, 1997.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 16, 2001.

Washington Post, June 10, 1997.


MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/onair/bios/s_obrien.asp (February 17, 2002).

—Carol Brennan

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerSoledad O'Brien: 1966—: Reporter Biography - Long Island Childhood, "goddess To The Geeks"