Katie Couric Weighs Anchor

In one of the most highly anticipated developments in the recent history of network news, Katie Couric stepped into the spotlight Tuesday night as the anchor of the CBS Evening News.

"Hi, everyone. I'm very happy to be with you tonight," Couric said simply before introducing the broadcast's lead story, a piece on the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Her introduction normally would have been read by an announcer, but in this case, viewers heard the voice of CBS News legend Walter Cronkite make the introduction.

The 30-minute broadcast ran smoothly and ended with an appeal from Couric for suggestions from viewers on how she might sign off at the end of each show. For now, Couric chose this ending: I'm Katie Couric. Thank you so much for watching. I hope to see you tomorrow night."

Couric had ended the broadcast -- or so she thought. A round of applause erupted in the studio, and Couric stood up, throwing her script into the air. She was beaming.

But a second later, she realized the camera would be trained back on her momentarily. She sat back down, everyone hushed, and the closing music rolled with Couric on screen smiling, her notes on the floor.

When the music ended, champagne corks popped in the studio. When Couric made her way out from behind the desk to greet the Evening News staff, a martini was thrust into her hand. She downed half of it before speaking.

"I have to interview the president tomorrow, so I can't have too much," Couric joked.

Evening News Executive producer Rome Hartman praised Couric's performance and then tossed a verbal bouquet to the news staff for a smooth production.

"We've all looked forward to this day, but this is really day one," Hartman said. "Imagine in six months what ass we will be kicking."

CBS is betting a chunk of the ranch that the 49-year-old newswoman can boost ratings, lure additional advertising dollars and re-energize a news division demoralized by a flawed story on President Bush's National Guard service that prompted the departure of four CBS News employees.