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In this July 22, 2011 file photo, NBC "Today" television program co-hosts Matt Lauer and Ann Curry appear during a segment of the show in New York. A source with knowledge of the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak on the matter said Wednesday, June 20, 2012 that NBC is discussing a plan to ease Curry out of the co-hosting role. The New York Times first reported these discussions on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Ann Curry out as Today host at NBC

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NEW YORK -- A tearful Ann Curry said goodbye after one year as co-host of NBC's "Today" show Thursday, saying "this is not as I expected to ever leave this couch after 15 years."

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She announced her departure at the end of her two-hour shift, ending a week of awkward television when she continued working after word spread that NBC was looking to oust her. The popular morning show is facing its biggest challenge in the ratings from ABC's resurgent "Good Morning America" since the mid-1990s.

"For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line but, man, I did try," she said, breaking down.

Curry started as the show's news anchor in 1997, and was promoted last June following Meredith Vieira's exit. But things never really clicked with co-host Matt Lauer. "Today" hadn't lost a week in the ratings since 1996 but this spring lost four times.

Curry said she's being given a "fancy new title" and will lead a reporting team. NBC said she will be anchor-at-large and national and international correspondent.

"You made NBC better and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," Lauer said.

He sat next to Curry on a couch as she made the announcement, joined by a somber Al Roker and Natalie Morales.

NBC's Savannah Guthrie is expected to replace Curry.

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