Albert Lincoln "Al" Roker, Jr. (born August 20, 1954) is an American television personality, weather forecaster, actor, and book author. He is best known as being the weather anchor on NBC's Today. From Monday, July 20, 2009 to Friday, October 2, 2015, he co-hosted his morning show, Wake Up with Al, on The Weather Channel, which aired weekdays live from 5:30 to 7:00 am ET one hour and a half earlier than Today. Roker also appears occasionally on NBC Nightly News. He holds an expired American Meteorological Society Television Seal #238. Writing with Dick Lochte, Roker began a series of murder mysteries in 2009 that feature Billy Blessing, a celebrity chef turned amateur detective. The second book in the series, The Midnight Show Murders (2010), was nominated for a 2011 Nero Award. On November 12, 2014, 10 PM EST, Roker attempted to beat the previous unofficial world record for an uninterrupted live weather report of 33-hours held by Norwegian weather broadcaster Eli Kari Gjengedal. On November 14, 2014, 8 AM EST, Roker set the new official Guinness World Record by reporting for 34-hours.
Al Roker was born in Queens, New York, the son of Isabel, of Jamaican descent, and Albert Lincoln Roker, Sr., a bus driver of Bahamian descent. 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 received a B.A. in communications in 1976.
According to the July 2011 issue of Us Weekly in "25 Things You Did Not Know About Me", Roker is the first cousin of the late actress Roxie Roker, who was most notable for her role as Helen Willis on the sitcom The Jeffersons and the mother of popular rock musician Lenny Kravitz. That makes Kravitz Roker's first cousin once removed.
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 weathercaster, and within eight months became the station's regular weeknight weathercaster. Roker replaced 27-year WNBC-TV veteran Dr. Frank Field, who left the network after a contract dispute. From 1983 to 1996, Roker was the regular substitute for forecaster Joe Witte on the NBC News program NBC News at Sunrise, and from 1990 to 1995 filled-in for Willard Scott, Bryant Gumbel and Matt Lauer on the Today Show. 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. 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 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 Merv Griffin game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. In 2008, Roker hosted NBC's Celebrity Family Feud. Roker also substituted Meredith Vieira for a week of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire shows on March 5–9, 2007. Roker also hosted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Roker also hosts various programs on 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. Roker formerly had a one and a half hour weekday morning stint live from 5:00–7:00 a.m. on The Weather Channel under the name Wake Up with Al which ended October, 2, 2015.
On November 23, 2015 Roker filed a discrimination complaint after he and his son tried to hail a taxi, the cab driver then passed them in order to pick up a white man on the next block. Roker stated on Twitter that a "cabbie picked up a white guy a block away. Wonder why Uber wins?" According to the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission the driver would either have to pay a $500 fine or possibly have his license suspended.
Roker's second wife is fellow journalist Deborah Roberts, who has reported for both ABC and NBC. She met Roker when she joined NBC in 1990 as a reporter.
Roker has three children, two daughters Courtney (b. 1987) and Leila (b. 1998) and one son Nicholas Albert (b. 2002).
On November 7, 2010, he ran in the ING New York City Marathon.
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 had dropped 100 pounds (45 kg) off his 320-pound figure. On Thursday, June 7, Roker underwent a total knee arthoplasty (replacement, or "TKA") on his left knee. In 2005, Roker had a back operation.
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.
"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."
In 2010, Roker made headlines after he admitted in a nationally televised interview that he had defecated in his pants during a visit to the White House, following his gastric bypass surgery.On 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.")
When he mentions Sunday's weather forecast on Fridays, often he restates the word "Sunday", affecting the voice of an announcer of a vintage drag racing radio commercial.
On the May 9, 1998, episode of Saturday Night Live (hosted by David Duchovny), Roker appeared in a "Mango" sketch with Matt Lauer. Usually, the sketch follows the fruitless pursuit of Mango by a character (portrayed by the cast member Chris Kattan). In the middle of this particular sketch, Roker appeared as the object of Lauer's affection. Instead of the famous catch-phrase "Mango, Mango!" Lauer says, "Roker, ROKER!!"
During the first 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!"
Roker holds the record for most appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, with over 30. He would often appear on the show as a last-minute replacement if a previously scheduled guest canceled their appearance.
Roker had a cameo appearance in Sharknado 2: The Second One, which premiered on Syfy on July 30, 2014.