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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who is Albert Lincoln Roker, Jr?

Who is Albert Lincoln Roker, Jr.? The entertainment world knows him as "Al" Roker, he is a television broadcaster, best known as the weather anchor for NBC's Today show. On July 20, 2009, he began co-hosting his new morning show Wake Up with Al on The Weather Channel, which airs weekdays from 6am to 7am ET, one hour away from Today show. He holds an expired American Meteorological Society Television Seal #238. He is the author of a murder mystery entitled, "The Morning Show Murders" about a celebrity chef and morning television show host drawn into international intrigue and mayhem.

 Personal life

Roker was born August 20, 1954  in the Jamaica borough of Queens, the son of Isabel and Albert Lincoln Roker, Sr., a labor relations negotiator, bus driver and dispatcher. Al is of Bahamian descent through his grandmother's side. Roker initially wanted to be a cartoonist. He was raised Catholic (in the faith of his mother) and graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan. He worked on several projects as a member of the school's Cartooning & Illustration club. He attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he double majored in graphic design and broadcasting/journalism. Roker is a cousin of actress Roxie Roker, who is most notable for her role on the sitcom The Jeffersons and the mother of popular rock musician Lenny Kravitz.

In 2002, Roker underwent gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, which he said he did after failing at numerous diets. Eight months after that

surgery, the New York Daily News reported he dropped 100 pounds (45 kg) off his 320-pound figure. In 2005 Roker had a back operation.

His (third) wife is fellow journalist Deborah Roberts, who has reported for both ABC and NBC, meeting Roker when she joined the latter in 1990 as a reporter. They worked together on Today from 1990–1995 with Roberts filling in for Faith Daniels, Margaret Larson and Matt Lauer at the newsdesk and Roker filling in for Willard Scott as the forecaster. Roker also filled in for forecaster Joe Witte on the former NBC News program NBC News at Sunrise from 1983 to 1996. Roker has three children.


Roker outside the Pentagon.
Before the national recognition, Roker worked as a weather anchor for CBS affiliate WHEN-TV (now WTVH) in Syracuse, New York from 1974 until 1976, while he was still enrolled at SUNY Oswego. Following the completion of his collegiate studies, Roker moved to Washington, D.C. and took a weathercasting position at independent station WTTG, then owned by Metromedia, remaining there for much of the next two years.

Roker's career with NBC began in 1978 when he was hired at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, then an NBC owned-and-operated station. After five successful years in Cleveland, Roker was promoted to the network's flagship outlet, WNBC-TV in his hometown. Roker returned to New York City in late 1983 as a weekend meteorologist, and within eight months became the station's regular weeknight weather caster. Roker replaced 27-year WNBC-TV veteran Dr. Frank Field, who left the network after a contract dispute.

In 1995, he became the host of The Al Roker Show, a weekend talk show on CNBC. In 1996–1997, he hosted a game show on MSNBC called Remember This?.
Roker started getting more exposure, especially when David Letterman asked him to do an elevator race with him in one episode of his talk show Late Night with David Letterman, which taped across the hall from WNBC's news studio in the GE Building. That led Roker to getting a job as the forecaster for Weekend Today, where he did the weather for nine years. He also substituted on the weekday edition of Today when Willard Scott was ill or away. In 1996, Scott announced his semi-retirement from the show, and Roker received the weekday weather position on Today, where he has been since. He officially joined Today on January 26, 1996. Roker became popular for doing his forecasts outside of the studio, interviewing audience members and giving some of them camera time. Roker also began doing more interviews and segments on the show as time progressed.
In 2005, Roker reported from inside Hurricane Wilma. A popular viral video exists on the internet of Roker being swept off his feet by the force of the hurricane and holding on to his cameraman.
Roker is a game show fan, and hosted a week-long segment on Today in honor of five game shows and their hosts. He also appeared as a celebrity player on both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. In 2008, Roker hosted NBC's Celebrity Family Feud. Roker also replaced Meredith Vieira for a week of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire shows on March 5–9, 2007.
Roker also hosts various programs on The Food Network, namely, Roker on the Road, and, Tricked-Out Tailgating. He is also the author of several non-fiction books, and an avid barbecue enthusiast.
Roker was also the forecaster for several radio stations, including the New York smooth jazz radio station WQCD (101.9 FM) and for Cleveland smooth jazz station WNWV (107.3 FM). The service was called the "Al Roker Radio Weather Network," it was provided by United Stations Radio Networks. He has since been replaced on those networks by Accuweather.


On June 7, 2007, Roker referenced the logo for 2012 Summer Olympics:
Remember that controversial Olympic logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? Some folks have complained that the campaign actually sent them into epileptic seizures. Well, we asked you to weigh in on our website in an informal poll; those of you who could get up off the floor after shaking around were able to actually log in.
The following day Roker stated, "I started joking about [the logo]. I want to make this clear — I was not joking about epilepsy or anyone who suffers from epilepsy. We understand and know that this is a serious affliction and would never joke about that. We were joking about the logo — not about epilepsy. If anybody was offended, I heartily and really humbly apologize."

Signature phrases

  • In many occasions on Today he has used the phrase "man candy" to describe attractive males.
  • At the end of his weather segments when they cut to local broadcasters for regional updates he says "That's what's going on around the country, here's what's happening in your neck of the woods". (Willard Scott's outcue phrase was "Here's what's happening in your world, even as we speak.")

 Other appearances and activities

  • Roker has done some voice acting, as both himself and a genie-like character on The Proud Family, as himself on Space Ghost Coast to Coast ("Chambraigne") promoting a brain-boosting shampoo, and thrice as intrepid reporter Sam Vander Rom in the math-mystery cartoon Cyberchase, including an episode called "The Wedding Scammer", which is a send-up of annual wedding on Today.
  • During the inaugural parade of President Barack Obama, Al Roker was able to get the "first interview" with the President by removing his Fedora hat and yelling to the walking President to come over. Acknowledging Roker, Obama continued walking along the parade route, telling him "it's warm!"
  • On February 11, 2009 Roker appeared on the Howard Stern Show as a returning guest after promoting the second Season of DEA. Previously, he had appeared to promote the first season of DEA.
  • Roker holds the record for most appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien".
  • Roker became an honorary member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity on August 19, 2009.
Roker appeared in some commercials for PBS Kids and on segments Between the Lions, a show on PBS Kids which runs on PBS Kids GO! and on show reruns on WXEL-TV West Palm Beach Florida.

 Charity work

In 2007, Roker became an official supporter of Ronald McDonald House Charities and is a member of their celebrity board, called the Friends of RMHC. He also served as the official spokesperson for Amtrak's National Train Day, which took place on May 10, 2008.

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