Today Show Weatherman Cornered ‘Rokerthon 2’ Blows Through the Rez

More than 500 people and one goat greeted Today Show weatherman Al Roker as he broadcast from the Four Corners Monument early Monday morning. The show aired at 7 a.m. local time. Navao Times photo by Cindy Yurth

More than 500 people and one goat greeted Today Show weatherman Al Roker as he broadcast from the Four Corners Monument early Monday morning, November 9, 2015. The show aired at 7 a.m. local time. Navao Times photo by Cindy Yurth

Published November 18, 2015

FOUR CORNERS— It was sort of cheating.

In his effort to report the weather in all 50 states in one week, Today Show weatherman Al Roker crossed four states off his list in one stop by filming at the Four Corners Monument Monday, November 9, 2015.

“I often talk about the weather in the Four Corners,” Roker said, “but I’ve never been here before.”

Navajos figured prominently in the broadcast, comprising most of the 500-plus people who braved pre-dawn alarm bells and sub-freezing weather for the chance to be seen on TV.

The tribe also provided two of the musical groups who played a round of “America the Beautiful” during the broadcast. The Chinle High School Band represented Arizona and the Martin Sisters represented New Mexico.

Utah was represented by an a capella women’s choir from Brigham Young University, while Colorado supplied the bluegrass band Trout Steak Revival.

“Are you the best band here?” a TV reporter queried Chinle High School band teacher Eric Swanson.

“We’re definitely the youngest band,” Swanson replied, although that wasn’t quite true as the Martin sisters are not yet in high school.

Roker, standing in turn on each quadrant of the circle marking the juncture of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, joked, “It’s 23 degrees in Colorado, 24 in Utah, 25 in Arizona and 26 in New Mexico.”

Actually, during the three-and-one-half hours Roker spent at the monument, the temperature varied between 31 and 25 degrees, chilliest just before dawn.

It was plenty cold enough for the spectators, some of whom had arrived as early as 1 a.m.

“We got here at 1:30,” said Redina Thompson of Cortez, Colo., “and there were already four cars ahead of us.”

“I can’t feel my fingers,” lamented one young brass player as the high schoolers waited nearly three hours to play eight bars of music.

Cindy Yurth | Navajo Times
Today Show personality Al Roker greets Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez while filming the Today Show at the Four Corners Monument Monday.

However, it all seemed worth it when Roker consented to have his photo taken with the grinning teens.

Tewakeedah Martin said that, while it was the sisters’ biggest gig yet if one counted the five million Today Show viewers, the sisters are no strangers to large crowds.

“Our second-biggest gig was the Navajo Nation inauguration,” she said.

As is typical for the show, audience members held up all sorts of signs, but these had a distinctly Four Corners flair. Several were in Navajo, and a person in a Bigfoot costume held up a sign proclaiming, “I came out of hiding for Al.”

Utes and Navajos alike turned out in full traditional regalia, the Utes bravely forsaking overcoats to show off their trademark beadwork.

Two people dressed as red and green chilis, respectively, leading to confusion for the New York-born Roker.

“What are those things?” he asked. “Are they like peppers?”

More recognizable was the angora goat somebody brought to meet the TV personality. Goats have showed up in the audience at almost every stop on the tour, Roker reported.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Vice President Jonathan Nez and a host of Diné royalty in glistening but brain-freezing crowns also turned out to welcome Roker.

“It’s good to see national TV in our area,” said Begaye. “We have so much Navajo Nation talent to be shared.”

Added Nez, “There are a lot of Navajo people here celebrating with Al. We’re happy to be a part of it. I hope people see the significance of our culture in our beautiful regalia and talented young people.”

Karen Trosset, producer for the episode, said she was amazed at the distances people drove and how willing they were to stand out in the elements for hours as the show was being filmed.

“It was freaking cold,” she said. “Thank you one hundred times to the Navajo people. They were so kind and caring.”

Trosset gave a special shout-out to Karen Yazzie, manager at the monument.

“She was very helpful in making everything run smoothly,” she said.

The stop was part of what Roker was dubbing “Monster Monday,” the day of the tour that covered the most ground. The crew was off to Texas after the Four Corners stop, and covered a total of 13 states in one day, bringing the total for the tour so far to 22 — nearly half, with Alaska and Hawaii already crossed off the list.

Roker is also raising money for Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, during the tour. To donate, or to learn more about “Rokerthon 2” as Roker is dubbing this tour (Rokerthon 1 was last year), visit www.today.com/series/rokerthon

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Navajo Times. Used with persmission. All rights reserved.

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