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Fame & Fortune
Al Roker
Jovial TV weatherman shows a serious side
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Al Roker
 

Al Roker: Yeah. It takes time, but luckily I was working in smaller markets, so nobody noticed how bad I was.

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Bankrate: Is it a more challenging job than one might think?

Al Roker: Challenging is a weird word. My dad drove a bus in Brooklyn for eight hours a day. That's hard work. I don't know that this is so challenging. The challenge is in making it interesting. All weather people get the same data. Our forecasts generally aren't that much different. So how do you get people to watch you as opposed to (watching) somebody else? That's the challenge. At the end of the day, does it really matter in the big picture? Not really. But it is what it is, and I enjoy doing it.

Bankrate: So what's up with weather people who talk about their "exclusive forecast"?

Al Roker: Well, they really don't have much else going then. When somebody says, "this person's exclusive," (it means that) they're speaking to you exclusively right now. Five minutes from now, they could be somewhere else. But, I mean, c'mon. The people who do that, they really think the audience are idiots, and they're not idiots.

Bankrate: When you were starting out, did you imagine that being a weatherman would lead to this sort of celebrity?

Al Roker: No. Who does? It didn't even dawn on me. I was so happy to get the weekend weather job at WNBC. When I got the weekday job there, I thought, "this is as good as it gets. I'm done." Then they added the weekend "Today" show and I thought, that's nice. But it never dawned on me that I would possibly wind up on the "Today" show.

Bankrate: How did you wind up branching out from the weatherman role?

Al Roker: I don't know. It's like sausage. You like it, but you don't want to think about how it's made. It just kinda happened, in that somebody asked me to do a story and I did a story, and it grows. The Food Network asked me to host a special, and I did, and I thought, I've always been interested in producing. So for the next special I said, can I produce it? And they said yes. That's how I started the production company. It just kind of happened.

Bankrate: Walk me through a typical Al Roker day.

Al Roker: I get up at 3:30. I talk to my meteorologist over the phone and on the Internet about what we're going to do for the show that day, then I get to work about 5:45, go through mail, things like that. We start the show at 7 and finish at 10, and we may have to update the show for the west coast. I go to my office and go through some more stuff, then I get to the production company around 11, 11:30, and try to get home around 3 to pick one of my kids up from school. Hopefully make dinner, hang out and then we hit the sack.

Every now and then my wife Deborah and I will go out on our own, try to have a date night. But then there may be times like this past Mother's Day. At the last minute there were bad tornadoes in Georgia. I had just come out of taking my kids to see "Speed Racer" and I needed to get home and grab a bag at the last minute and head to the airport. Luckily we had had brunch and done all that stuff.

Bankrate: Thinking about your years at the "Today" show, single out a favorite moment or incident for me.

Al Roker: When I got to interview Charles Schultz for the 50th anniversary of "Peanuts."

Next: "I don't know how sharp a business mind I have ..."
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