Interview: Al Roker

Most Americans know Al Roker as the affable weatherman on NBC's Today show.

Most Americans know Al Roker as the affable weatherman on NBC's Today show.

But in recent years, he has branched out into other ventures, including specials with the Food Network and Court TV, as well as writing books on fatherhood and cooking. PRWeek spoke to the TV personality to find out his thoughts on his career, America's perception of him, and what he really thinks of PR pros. PRWeek: What accomplishment are you the most proud of? Al Roker: It depends on when you ask me. I was so proud of my first job, which was in Syracuse, NY, doing weekend weather at WHGN TV. I was proud of getting a job in Washington at WTTG. I was over the moon about getting a job at the NBC-owned station in Cleveland, WKYC. When I got the job doing weekend weather at WNBC [in New York City], I thought, "OK, I'm done." I don't know how I topped that; I went to the Today show. Basically, I am most proud of whatever it is I am doing. PRWeek: Is there something that you are still looking to accomplish career-wise? Roker: I never planned to do this; I never even planned to be on television. My department chairman [at SUNY Oswego] told me I had the perfect face for radio. At some point, I'd love to be able to front a talk show, like a [Live with] Regis and Kelly-type show, but one never knows. I've been so fortunate already. PRWeek: Obviously most Americans know you as the Today show weatherman, but now that you've forged into other areas, how do you identify yourself? Roker: I don't. I let other people do that. I let them form whatever ideas they want. You can't be all things to all people, but you let people draw their own assumptions. If you tell them what you are, then you've limited yourself. I do the fun stuff on the Today show; I've done serious stuff on Court TV. I'm able to present different sides to different people so that they'll look at me as a whole person. PRWeek: How much contact do you have with PR professionals? Roker: We have PR people who deal with us at Today. The best PR people are the ones who let the story speak for itself. I know there are reasons why they have to spin things, but I think the best people let a quality product speak for itself, whether it's a TV show, book, or movie. PRWeek: What would you suggest to PR professionals looking to pitch the Today show? Roker: First, they should be honest. If you're selling people something that it's not, they're going to get upset, whether it's a television show, consumer, or journalist. A PR person has probably one of the most difficult jobs because they have loyalty to their client and a relationship with the people they're pitching. In the end, your stock in trade is your honesty and the trust you build up. If you squander that trust, who's going to buy it? Who's going to believe it? The best PR people are the ones that let their clients do the talking or know whether or not to put it out there. PR people have to be honest - not only with the people they're pitching, but with their client. Name: Al Roker Outlet: Today Title: Weatherman and feature reporter Preferred contact method: via Tom Chiodo at Rubenstein Communications, tchiodo@rubenstein.com Website: www.today.msnbc.com

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