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CNN hires Soledad O'Brien for morning show

Soledad O'Brien

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'American Morning,'  weekdays, 7-10 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Soledad O'Brien, the anchor of NBC's "Weekend Today," will join CNN's flagship morning show in early July, taking the slot Paula Zahn vacated earlier this year, an executive from the cable network announced Thursday.

O'Brien, 36, will be based in New York and will join Bill Hemmer as a co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning," said Teya Ryan, executive vice president and general manager of CNN U.S. The show airs from 7-10 a.m. (ET).

"We are delighted that Soledad will be joining our "American Morning" family," Ryan said. "She is an excellent journalist and talented anchor and is extremely well suited to our morning news program. We think "American Morning" viewers will find her smart, engaging and a perfect fit with Bill, Jack Cafferty and the rest of the "America Morning" team."

O' Brien, after joining NBC in 1999 on "Weekend Today," contributed reports for the weekday and weekend editions of the "Today Show" and weekend editions of "NBC Nightly News." She covered such notable stories as John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crash and the school shootings in Colorado and Oregon. Most recently, she anchored NBC's weekend coverage of the war in Iraq.

Before "Weekend Today," O'Brien anchored MSNBC's technology program "The Site" and the cable network's weekend morning show. She served for three years as a local reporter and bureau chief for the NBC affiliate in San Francisco, KRON.

During that time, O'Brien won a local Emmy for her work as a co-host on Discovery Channel's "The Know Zone." O'Brien joined NBC News in 1991 and was based in New York as a field producer for the Nightly News and Today.

Zahn is currently anchor for CNN's weeknight primetime evening program, "Live from the Headlines."

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