CBS Moves Morning Show to Devastated Town

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NEW YORK - While the "Today" show's globe-trotting Matt Lauer has touched down in Argentina, Holland and Laos, his rivals at CBS are spending the week in Kansas.

"The Early Show" has sent hosts Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez, news anchor Russ Mitchell and weatherman Dave Price to Greensburg, the small town nearly wiped off the map by a tornado that killed 11 people on May 4, 2007.

They're pitching in to build an eco-friendly playground and reporting on the town's recovery. The idea for the trip came together quickly, and wasn't timed as a response to Lauer's popular "Where in the World" series, Smith said.

"You may find it hard to believe, but I don't watch the `Today' show," Smith told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Along with helping on the playground, CBS brought members of Kansas' national champion men's basketball team for a visit. The rock band REO Speedwagon is also coming in for a concert.

"A lot of parts of the town look like Katrina one year later," Smith said.

The tornado destroyed more than 90 percent of the town's homes and businesses, with a grain elevator and the Kiowa County Courthouse among the few buildings left standing.

Smith said the CBS crew has felt welcomed in the community, with many of the residents coming up and asking to pose for pictures or simply to say "thank you."

"There are plenty of things you can do during sweeps," Smith said, "and of all the things that we've ever done, I love this the most."

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