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Meredith Vieira is leaving the "Today" show

Meredith Vieira at the 20th Annual Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame Awards on Oct. 27, 2010, in New York. Getty

(CBS/AP) Meredith Vieira has confirmed that she will be leaving NBC's "Today" show next month to spend more time with her family. She will be succeeded by Ann Curry.

Vieria, who has been co-host of the top-rated morning show since 2006 when she replaced Katie Couric, made the announcement on-air Monday.

Pictures: Meredith Vieira

"Even as I say this and I know that it's the right thing, I'm really sad," Vieira, 57, said near tears.

Her co-host, Matt Lauer, said that Vieira "has brought class and dignity and talent and a joy of life to this show for the last five years."

The turnover was anticipated as Vieira has talked in the past about wanting more free time. Her husband, author Richard M. Cohen, wrote a best-selling book about coping with multiple sclerosis and colon cancer. Vieira and Cohen have three children.

The news also comes a few weeks after reports surfaced that Vieira was stepping down before her contract expired in September.

Transitions are unusual for "Today," as Vieira was still the newbie among the show's core four that included Lauer, Curry and Al Roker.

Curry has been with "Today" since 1997 as the news anchor. Passed over for the top job five years ago when Vieira was chosen, she stuck with the show and carved out a new reputation as a globe-trotting reporter. She was in Pakistan last week following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"I feel like the high school computer nerd who has just been asked to the prom by the quarterback of the football team," Curry said.

Natalie Morales, an anchor for the third of the show's four hours, will become the regular newsreader. "Today" also announced that MSNBC anchor Savannah Guthrie will become the 9 a.m. host with Morales and Roker.

"While we will miss waking up with her each morning, we are working together on developing her next chapter at NBC News," NBC News president Steve Capus said of Vieira in a statement.

Watch the report on Vieira's departure and her successor Ann Curry:

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