NBC 97-2000


At the time of the cancellation of THE SITE at MSNBC on September 18, 1997, Soledad was still under contract to NBC.

She moved into 1998 as a substitute anchor on NBC's The News With Brian Williams. and also filed stories for NBC's Weekend Today Show.

She appeared more frequently on NBC's MSNBC cable channel.

Soledad contributed a technology column to MSNBC.COM, but her primary position became as the co-anchor of  Weekend Today, NBC's top-rated weekend morning news program, in July 1998.

In addition to her responsibilities at Weekend Today, O'Brien continued to file reports for Nightly News during the week and on its weekend editions.

Adding to that were anchor responsibilities for MSNBC's Morning Blend, a two-hour news talk show on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Soledad covered a number of major breaking news stories for both NBC and MSNBC, including the special coverage of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane crash, the high school shootings in Littleton, Colorado and Springfield, Oregon, and the fatal Alabama tornadoes.

She also traveled to Cuba to cover the Pope's historic visit in January 1998. During that trip she was able to make contact with relatives of her mother who were still living in Cuba.

Soledad O'Brien's Cuban video diary for MSNBC contained her personal observations on returning to the home of her ancestors.

Soledad began giving a number of talks at colleges and for organizations, an activity that she continues to enjoy doing today.

For example, Soledad was the keynote speaker at the Latina Women's Day banquet at Brown University. O'Brien spoke of her early days in TV news starting out in Boston in 1988. Her talk stressed integrity and fearlessness in acheiving goals, and the importance of mentors throughout her career:

"...they taught me, really, to be fearless. Not everyone's going to love you all the time. Once you come to that sort of understanding, you sort of get over wanting to be loved at all. They also told me to not be afraid to walk away. Don't compromise your integrity and value your integrity over everything else and to remember that the job of a journalist is to serve the public."

As Women's Wire's resident technology expert, Soledad anchored their program, "Plugged In," conducting interviews with high-tech execs and women who use everyday technology to further their businesses.

She was also a contributing editor for USA Weekend Magazine.

In January 1999, she was interviewed when she gave a talk at the Internet Society at Dublin University, Ireland.

One of the things that was great about The Site was the fact that we had a lot of international viewers and for the US, it's unusual to get such a perspective."

TV shows come and they go. My goal has always been to do projects that interest me. And I am lucky that for the most part I get to do what I like to do. I have had a lot of success in projects that I have done, and I can pretty much choose what I want to work on. And that's a huge luxury, because I can't think of anything worse than being forced to slog away at something you hate.

I liked the Site because it was really me. We were never pitching for anybody. And sometimes I would say what I liked, you know Macs are my thing! Probably I went overboard in that!

Something else will come along. I can't do entertainment, I can't do Hollywood. It has to interest me, maybe science or technology, and be worthwhile. I have to be in a position where I am doing something that is fulfilling.

At NBC News, Soledad O'Brien became the anchor of the network’s Weekend Today beginning in July 1999.

Soledad was still connected by many people with technology from her time on The Site. In an interview on the web site, "The Conduit," Soledad was asked about the African-American presence on the Internet:

African Americans need to understand technology. There is a huge risk of being "left behind, and as our society moves to embrace every aspect of high-tech, any student or employee who resists understanding technology will find himself or herself less valuable in the marketplace. African Americans need to form a voice on the web. Right now it's a free for all and there are many voices being heard. Censorship on the web could keep many voices from being heard. Education is crucial, access is imperative.

Soledad was part of a panel at The Smithsonian Institute's Hispanic Heritage Month in October 1999.

The panel was on the "Afro-Latino Presence in U.S. Popular Culture. " Afro-Latinos in the public eye participated in the panel and an audience Q&A to discuss how their public image is shaped by their heritage.

Weekend Today put Soledad in many interesting situations for stories...

Soledad hosted MSNBC's Special Edition until late in 1999. The channel's limited-run series "Into the Future" was online at MSNBC.COM at the close of the millennium.

In 2000, Soledad continued her anchor responsibilities at NBC and MSNBC. On NBC she was also an occasional reporter for Nightly News during the week.

Soledad was on the advisory board of Cyberangels, an Internet safety organization.

Fresh from anchoring the debating digerati at the Technology Summit in Silicon Valley in late February, Soledad kicked off the FETC 2000 Apple conference with a keynote speech on the issues of technology and society.

In March, David Bloom joined Weekend Today as co-anchor with Soledad. Bloom replaced Jack Ford.

The program is the weekend edition of the weekday morning news Today show.

The program is broadcast from Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza in New York. The weekend broadcasts continue the Today tradition of covering breaking news, interviewing newsmakers, reporting on a variety of popular culture and human interest stories, covering health and finance issues, and presenting the latest weather reports.

In addition, the show offers visitors to New York City a chance to observe firsthand the workings of a live television broadcast with its windowed studio on Rockefeller Plaza, and interaction with the crowd outside the studio is a major piece of the program.

In April 2000, Soledad was named one of The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People magazine.

"Growing up on Long Island, you had to have the big hair," teases her brother Orestes, 32. "Solly's hair was puffy at the prom, and then two weeks into college it flattened out."

"What adds luster to her beauty," says ABC's Jack Ford, her former co-anchor at Weekend Today, "is a combination of intelligence, warmth and good humor."

Adds O'Brien pal, makeup artist Lisa Jear: "She has a really beautiful skin tone." That may also be the glow of pregnancy: O'Brien and her husband of almost five years, investment banker Brad Raymond, 34, expect their first child this fall.

O'Brien now keeps her 5'5" form fit by walking. That body, often clad in leather pants and high heels on the job, does turn heads -- but, O'Brien maintains, "I don't think being beautiful takes away from your credibility."

Soledad was also named named by Newsweek magazine's Spanish edition as one of the "Critical Más: 20 for 2000."

"There's more to Generation Ñ than crossover pop stars. Another young Latino to watch is SOLEDAD O'BRIEN. The NBC news correspondent-anchor is a one-woman melting pot. Her Cuban-born mother is black, her father is Irish-Australian."

AILF Soledad (far left) spoke at an American Immigration Law Foundation event.

Midyear, Soledad announced that she was pregnant with her first child.

During her pregnancy and leave from anchor duties, Soledad returned to Harvard to complete her degree in English and Literature. She had left during her senior year to take her first news job.

Baby Sofia!

Soledad gave birth to a baby girl on October 23, 2000 at 4:55 am. Sofia Elizabeth was the first child for Soledad and her husband Brad.

Jodi Applegate filled in for her on Weekend Today until December when Soledad returned to her regular co-anchor position.