Bankrate: What was your impression of him?
I found him a very lovely, sweet man; humble,
yet he had a healthy ego. But by and large, for
a man who had a multibillion-dollar industry based
on these, as he said, "round-headed kids and a
dog," he seemed like a pretty down-to-earth fellow.
And very spiritual.
Which part of your "Today" show duties is
Al Roker: Working with the people: Matt, Ann, Meredith, Katie, Bryant. You work
with some really terrific people, and not a lot of people get to say that. A lot of people don't like the people they work
with. It makes life a lot easier.
You worked for a long time with Katie Couric.
She's in a bit of a mess now. Did you think she
made a mistake in leaving "Today"?
Al Roker: I don't think anybody can categorize a choice anybody makes as a mistake.
It's up to them to categorize that. I think she had an opportunity that she had always wanted to do, and who am I to say that
that's a mistake to do that, because then you spend the rest of your life wondering, well, "Should I have done it?" So I don't
see anything like that as a mistake.
Bankrate: Tell me about Al Roker Productions. How did that start?
Al Roker: I started it in 1992 to launch a Web site,
alroker.com, and I did a thing for The Food Network.
Were there Web sites in 1992?
Al Roker: Not a lot of them, but yeah.
Bankrate: That was really cutting edge of you.
Al Roker: I guess it was. I also started writing a daily journal. If I had called
it a blog, I'd be a millionaire. But I did that back in '94 online.
Bankrate: So you started Al Roker Productions to do the Web site.
Al Roker: Then I did the Food Network special: Al Roker's "Memphis in May" barbecue
Bankrate: That was the first show you ever produced?
Al Roker: Yes.
Bankrate: How did that come about?
I had hosted a special for them previously, I
can't remember what it was, but we were gonna
do the barbecue special, and they said "Sure,
here you go." So that was our first special. We
did a few more for them, then a weekly series,
and in the meantime we did a Lifetime Intimate
Portrait on Judge Judy, we did an A&E bio on Whoopi
Goldberg. We just started branching out.
Bankrate: Have you always had a sharp business mind?
Al Roker: I don't know how sharp a business mind I have, but I've always had an
inquisitive mind. I like producing stuff, and the creative end of it. Luckily, I have some people who are better business minds
than me working for me.
Bankrate: Did you always want to run a business?
Al Roker: No, not really. It just evolved. Most of the things I'm doing I didn't
start out to do. They just kind of happened. That's why you just kinda go with the flow. It sounds cliche, but you don't know
where things are gonna take you. You gotta be open to it.
Bankrate: What do you enjoy most about producing?
Al Roker: That at the end of the day there's something there. There's a product,
as ephemeral as it may be, but it's there, and you had something to do with it.