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“They may all be Sun Devils, but today you are all my people!” Roker announced to millions of viewers and the group of assembled students, who enthusiasticaly cheered, chanted and showed their school spirit throughout the three-hour broadcast.
Roker’s unnanounced visit was in response to a message sent out in August by Cronkite students Torunn Sinclair and Kari Osep, who tweeted #SunDevilsHeartToday. Later that month, the network set up a remote broadcast in Taylor Place, which showed the halls and rooms decked out in a "Today Show" theme. And on Wednesday, "The Today Show" visited Downtown Phoenix campus to express their appreciation to students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who are fervent followers and gather to watch the show every morning.
Roker’s presence literally brought Sinclair and a few others to tears.
“I couldn’t believe Al was there in person because it was absolutely surreal," said Osep, a 20-year-old junior. "This was a dream come true for both me and Torunn. Come on – Al Roker and 'The Today Show,' live at the Downtown Phoenix campus at Taylor Place! It’s absolutely insane.”
The jovial host and weatherman was in rare form, passing out "Today Show" hats, signing autographs, fielding random questions and offering career advice.
“Social media is a double-edged sword,” Roker cautioned. “You are the stop gap between hearsay and the truth, and it’s your job to find the truth. Just because something’s on the Internet or social media doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”
Roker also suggested students need to be prepared, be themselves and know a little bit about everything.
“I Iove my job because I learn something new every day,” Roker said. “It’s so rewarding to come to places like ASU and meet people who enjoy the show.”
Freshman Anthony Mitchell, who sported ASU-themed pajamas to the live shoot, caught Roker’s eye as soon as he entered the room.
“Are you wearing pajamas, sir?” Roker asked. “That’s really disturbing. Do you have a flap in the back?”
“I wish I did,” said Mitchell, who matched Roker barb for barb throughout the morning.
After Roker signed off, he was on a plane bound for New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Despite his brief appearance, students say Roker left a lasting impression.
“The whole thing is a still a shock. It was one thing to get on 'The Today Show,' but to have the network send him to ASU and reciprocate the passion we have towards them is amazing,” said Sinclair, a 21-year-old senior. “Getting a selfie with Al Roker on Twitter is going to be unforgettable and hard to top. It means a lot to all of us that he came.”