Natalie Morales says goodbye to NBC viewers in touching farewell: 'It was an honor'

·3 min read

Natalie Morales is signing off from NBC, and she has everyone in tears.

The West Coast anchor of "Today" and "Dateline NBC" correspondent announced in October she would be leaving her role with NBC to join CBS' daytime show "The Talk." On Friday, she read a letter to viewers to highlight her 22-year-long career with the network.

"Dear viewers … From the minute I stepped in front of the camera and into your living rooms, I knew it was an honor to be part of your morning tradition, the most sacred time,” she said. "With you, I’ve had a front row seat to moments that captured our hearts, moments I will forever cherish as I witnessed history."

The 49-year-old host went on to share some of the most touching and impactful stories she's covered over the years including the rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days, two royal weddings, eight Olympic games and the Boston Marathon bombing survivors who inspired her to run again.

More: Natalie Morales joins CBS' 'The Talk' as co-host after NBC News exit: 'I can't wait'

"So many extraordinary people touched our lives, trusting us with their awe-inspiring journeys," she said.

She finished her farewell: "You and my 'Today' family have given me a place I will forever call home. Thank you for all those mornings and the lifetime of memories we now share. With all my love and gratitude, Natalie."

Morales was crying when they cut back to her and co-hosts, Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Carson Daly.

"We love you so much, Natalie. You’re such a treasure," said Guthrie. "I just think about what a great friend you’ve been to all of us. Gosh, and you were a friend to me when I needed it most."

From left, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, and Savannah Guthrie arrive for the 70th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater.
From left, Natalie Morales, Hoda Kotb, and Savannah Guthrie arrive for the 70th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater.

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On Oct. 1, Morales announced she was leaving NBC News and a week later, shared she was joining "The Talk" (2 EDT/1 PDT) as a host alongside Akbar Gbajabiamila, Amanda Kloots, Jerry O’Connell and Sheryl Underwood.

The addition of Morales to the daytime talk show follows several recent departures, including Sharon Osbourne and Elaine Welteroth.

Morales called the move "an extraordinary opportunity."

"I love the new energy and direction and couldn’t be more excited to join Sheryl, Amanda, Jerry and Akbar. I’m looking forward to many good times while talking about the days’ topics, and I can’t wait to get going."

Morales started her career at WVIT, a local NBC station in Hartford, Connecticut, before joining MSNBC, where she was an anchor and correspondent. She eventually scored what she called "golden tickets" with her jobs at "Today" and "Dateline."

She joined "Today" in 2006 and became the morning show's news anchor five years later, replacing Ann Curry, who had been named to replace Meredith Vieira as a main anchor. But after Curry's messy exit in 2012, Morales was passed over, and Guthrie became co-anchor instead. Morales went on to anchor "Access Hollywood," NBC's syndicated infotainment show, and became West coast anchor for "Today."

Contributing: Charles Trepany, Bill Keveney

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Natalie Morales leaving NBC: Watch her touching farewell to viewers