Al Roker Describes Racist On-Air Incident In New Book ‘You Look So Much Better in Person’
Al Roker is known for being a television host and personality, however, he has a long history of being an author.
The 65-year-old released his thirteenth book on Tuesday (July 28), titled You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success. The book is a collection of essays about the lessons Roker has learned in his over four-decades in show business.
“I had no idea which direction the book was going to go in,” the Today Show anchor told Yahoo Entertainment on Monday. “I’m glad I did it. Look, I’m getting older! Who knows how much longer I’m going to remember this stuff?”
Roker says he was approached to write the book after speaking on a panel for the National Association of Black Journalists. In his memoir, he reveals how he got his start in college as a weather forecaster in Syracuse to landing his dream job at NBC.
“I think things keep us from saying yes because we’re afraid we’re gonna fail,” he told Yahoo. “I get it, nobody wants to fail, but some of the greatest things that have happened in history happened because of failure. Nobody comes right out of the box succeeding, no great inventions were done on the first try. But also, I hope [readers find] the courage to say ‘no’ to the things that don’t spark your passion, that don’t give you some sense of satisfaction.”
The book also dives into some deep and eye-opening experiences Roker has faced in his career, including an on-air racist incident that stuck with him for years. While working for WKYC in Cleveland, Doug Adair, a co-anchor of his, told him mid-broadcast “One of your people attacked me,” referring to a Black homeless man.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Roker writes in his book. “What Doug said was incredibly wrong and obviously racist, and I knew I had to respond to it. … I looked at him and said matter-of-factly: ‘Doug, why would a weatherman attack you?’”
Roker told Yahoo the incident taught him a valuable lesson: that racism and injustice can be handled in numerous different ways. He decided to handle that incident with humor.
“It was one of those things — it happened, there’s no point in dwelling on it and I kept moving,” he explains. “Listen, there are people who have suffered far greater insults, slights and biases that it’s hard for them to move on because it affected their careers. Doug didn’t affect my career, so I was able to keep moving. But there are others that have had to suffer far greater things. It taught me there are degrees in ways in which you react. I think I reacted in the way it needed to be.”
Roker added that while the incident was shocking and horrible, it’s nothing like the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor tragedies.
“The country has reacted since George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in completely different ways — and needed to. In a way, the pandemic helped us get there because we didn’t have the distraction of work, or weekend activities, or baseball games,” he says.
“We had to watch that, we had to see that, take that in and decide how we felt about it. Obviously as a country as a whole, we were outraged by it. Sickened by it. Saddened by it.”
You Look So Much Better in Person is available now.