Students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication are among some of the biggest fans of the TODAY show. In August, a series of viral tweets from Taylor Place community assistants Kari Osep and Torunn Sinclair expressed their fandom after decorating the 11th floor with a TODAY show theme.
After residents moved in, they posted photosof their floor on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and made a video showing their love for the show. KPNX, the local NBC affiliate, reached out to them them asking to do a story about the floor on its morning show.
Last week, students found out that they would be filmed live on national television.
Journalism freshman Madalyn Heimann said Osep and Sinclair started a big campaign influencing residents of the 11th floor to reach out to NBC newspeople on social media.
They had already been featured on the local NBC affiliate 12 News but finding out that they would be featured on national television came as a huge surprise.
“On the day we found out, Torrun and Kari called all of us to an emergency floor meeting,” Heimann said. “I was a little worried when they said we would have to get up really early, thinking it was something serious, but when I learned we would be featured on the TODAY show, I was pumped.”
Starting on Tuesday at 11:59 p.m., students gathered in a poster-making party for the TODAY show. Since they operated on New York time, the show itself did not begin to air until 4 a.m. Wednesday.
During one of the taping sessions, Al Roker, the show’s weather anchor,surprised studentswhen he appeared in Devil’s Den disguised in a Sparky mascot head. All 150 students crammed into Devil’s Den were in disbelief. Some were so starstruck, it brought them to tears.
In between taping session, Roker joked with students, answered questions and gave advice to aspiring journalists. He even took photos with some of his biggest fans.
Roker said he was honored to be in the presence of such motivated students and happy to do this segment with students so fired up about journalism.
“I am very happy I was able to keep my appearance on the show a surprise despite how social media can sometimes make it very hard to keep things a secret,” he said.
Journalism freshman Alexander Ross-Zamora said staying awake would not be a problem.
“I’m a college student, so I am always up late,” he said.
Students kept themselves awake by consuming energy drinks and singing loud songs. Many had early classes the following morning but that did not deter them participating.
Journalism freshman Hannah Cissell said she participated in these all-night events despite her early class schedule.
“I have a Spanish midterm at 7:30 a.m.,” she said.
Journalism freshman Dominic Cotroneo said Roker acted exactly the way he does on television.
“He was genuine, kind and very sociable,” he said. “He is a really great guy and someone very approachable.”
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