Al Roker ’76 Cheers Campus Community via Zoom Session
More than 140 students and employees joined a live virtual session Oct. 1 with NBC Today show weather anchor and co-host, Al Roker ’76.
College President Deborah F. Stanley moderated the informal question-and-answer session with the popular weatherman and media icon.
Rory Parker ’21, a broadcasting and mass communication major who was enrolled in a broadcasting course Al co-taught last fall, welcomed attendees to the session and introduced President Stanley.
Al fielded questions that covered his time as a student at SUNY Oswego to his advice for students interested in broadcasting careers to his coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch a recording of the event.
Early in the conversation, President Stanley asked Al why he chose to attend Oswego.
“Oswego met my stringent requirements–I was accepted,” he joked. As a first-generation college student, he said he decided to attend Oswego without having ever seen the campus and without much knowledge about what to expect from the college experience. He learned self-reliance and how to be part of a new community that seemed so different from his home in Queens.
He then talked about how SUNY Oswego afforded him an opportunity to discover who he was and what his strengths were as well as to learn from tremendous faculty.
He also told students that he still gets nervous before going live and was even nervous about talking to the students in this Zoom session. Nerves are normal and good, as they help him maintain his edge and his hunger to improve and to learn, he said.
He encouraged students to stay positive despite the unique challenges they are facing. He shared how he used the time in quarantine to develop a cooking show on Instagram with his son, plant a vegetable garden and try to learn the ukelele. He also caught up on reading, played board games and generally enjoyed the company of his family.
He mentioned how the pandemic showed employers how much can be done remotely and opened opportunities for student interns and prospective employees who might not otherwise have had a chance to work with news organizations. He explained how much power students have in creating their own content with basic production tools found on most cell phones.
Being an undergraduate is “one of the greatest times of your life. Take advantage of the truly wonderful professors and take the time to find out who you are,” he told students.
A generous supporter of his alma mater, Al provided SUNY Oswego a gift to name the Al Roker Television Studio, which is operated by the student-run television station (WTOP), and helped to name the annual Media Summit in honor of a mentor, Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell.
His live national broadcasts from campus and his frequent on-air “plugs” for Oswego provide exposure for the college, most notably during Rokerthon3 in March 2017, and last fall when he co-taught a broadcasting course entitled “Camera Ready: Developing Your On-Air Persona.”
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from SUNY Oswego and an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York. Al also serves as an Oswego College Foundation board member.
He announced on-air in November that he will begin treatments for an aggressive form of prostate cancer that doctors caught in early stages, and he is using his fame to share his experience and raise awareness about early screening and treatments to others.