Mar 9, 2012

My appearance on 'Today'

First thing you need to know: I've been watching NBC's Today show ("This is Today, on Enn. Bee. Cee.") for my entire life. It has been the soundtrack to my morning routine since before I can remember.

So when I traveled to Manhattan on business in 1999, I made it my mission to be on the show. (And I should apologize to Faithful Reader Shelby right now, because she asked me to write this post before she went to New York a couple of weeks ago, and I just couldn't pull it together. This was way back before digital, so I had to pull out my scrapbooks, find the one these were in, and take pictures of the pictures! Sorry it took so long, Shelby!)

I'd been to New York several times before this trip and have been several times since, but it will forever be special in my mind because of the Today connection.

I stayed with our niece and faithful blog reader Kim and her husband Andrew in their apartment, which was on West 60th between Columbus and Amsterdam (I think), for the week. In the evenings after I finished my conference duties, I'd head over there and they'd show me their part of the city.

We had several absolutely wonderful meals, and we also went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Palace Theatre.

When we walked by Rockefeller Center, of course I was excited to see pictures of MY PEOPLE.

This was back in the days of "Katie and Matt, Al and Ann, first on your TV, America's first family ... Today on NBC." Yes, I still know it by heart. And I hum it from time to time.

After supper that night, Kim and I walked to CVS and bought posterboard and markers so I could make a sign. I had made up my mind: I was going to GET ON THAT SHOW.

My oily T-zone and I got up at 4:30 the next morning, because I'm no fool. When you've watched a show for 25 years, you know those crazy fans get there at the butt-crack of dawn, and I wanted to be there first. You know, before all the crazy people.

I was bundled up and at Rockefeller Center by 5:20. If you are unfamiliar with time, that is an UNGODLY hour of the morning.

It was only 24 degrees, and I was the fifth person to arrive. I knew exactly where I wanted to stand for maximum exposure ... OUT OF MY WAY, AMATEURS. By 6:45, I was simultaneously really excited about the show's imminent start and scared to death I'd developed frostbite on my toes.

We had a monitor there, so we could see the live feed of the show, which was nice.

There wasn't a whole lot of equipment out there, but there were a few lights and at least two cameramen ... who weren't dressed nearly as warmly as I, but they looked a heck of a lot more comfortable. Polar bears.

The crowd had grown to several hundred by the time the show started, and the cameras panned across us several times at the beginning of the show.

These people are what I would call "the amateurs." See how they're all stacked up facing those windows? And it looks like I'm far back? This is where it pays to be The Show's Number-One Fan Of All Time.

I was a little farther back off the "front lines" that face the studio's windows, but I was on the front row that faced the side. The side of the building where Katie, Matt, Ann and Al came out to visit with the crowd. WIN!

So when Al walked out that door at about the 12-minute mark to do his first crowd troll, there I was with my sign. BOOM.

Al was really nice and did a 45-second "interview" with me.

Al: "And ya know, I gotta tell ya, every now and then we get a sign that expresses the peace and love of humanity. 'Happy birthday, Grayson.' Who's Grayson?"

Me: "Grayson's my husband."

Al: "Your husband?"

Me: "He's 29 tomorrow."

Al: "And the best part of the message ... 'If you're not taping this, I'll kill you!' That kind of says it all."

Me: "If he doesn't tape it, no birthday presents."

Al: "If this isn't a Hallmark card by tomorrow, I just don't know what is. What's your name?"

Me: "My name is Katherine and I'm from Birmingham, Alabama."

Al: "And Grayson, if you're not taping, leave home, okay, or she's coming after you!"

Later in the show, Katie and Ann came out to chat, and I was on screen for their segment.

Katie was really cold and went back inside after the cameras were off, but Ann stayed outside and visited for several minutes.

I got phone calls and emails from about 30 people who randomly caught me on TV ... this was years before Facebook and texting, so only a few people knew I was going to even try to be on. It was really coincidental that so many people ended up seeing me!

As it turned out, the local NBC affiliate covered my "appearance" in that evening's "Star Beat." Ha!

They showed the whole clip from that morning, and even more of my friends and family saw me on the local newscast.

It was so much fun! Other than getting up so early and freezing my tush off, it was a fabulous experience. Perhaps one day I'll tell the story of going to an OPRAH taping ...


Shelby Baker said...

Better late than never! :) I didn't make it to Today this trip, but I did make GMA, Live with Kelly, and Late Show with David Letterman! I plan on heading to Today next time... Maybe it won't be as cold as it was being on GMA in February... Aye, aye, aye! -Shelby

ginmommy said...

I think this is one of the best things I've ever read from you. The NBC morning show feels like family to me. The noises, the music, I don't know, it's just comforting. Oh, and the guy that does the promos for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on NBC? Seriously, I think he's he's my uncle. ANYWAYS, I just love this! I love that you met AL! I love that you made an awesome sign and froze your lady bits off. How cute are you? Let's be friends, mmm k? I mean I stalk you anyways....

ginmommy said...

Oh, and if you met Oprah. I WILL DIE.

Keri said...

How fun!
I've been to NYC several times and love it! We did make it out to the Today show taping, but never got close enough to get on TV :(
Makes me want to go back for another visit!

Kimberly said...

Um, oh my word with the retro! That interview was really amazing. I remember thinking that Al just kept on talking to you. You were a hit with him!

Tracey said...

I Looooove Al!!!! Amazing post! What a great, great memory! Can't wait for the Oprah story.....

Jami said...

This is so awesome! I LUV The Today Show, I'm an NBC gal. It's also our only local news station I watch. I am so jealous, and I agree with Gretchen, this may be the best thing I've read.

Shelby Baker said...

I, of course, had to comment again once I read the other comments. I have one thing to say about the post I suggested - YOUR WELCOME. Two readers said it's the best thing they've read... whaaaat? Ha, ha. Just kidding... kind of :)

Rachel said...

That's awesome!! You went viral before it was a concept - you made the local news!!

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