The beloved co-host of NBC's third hour of Today opens up about his new book, his next 'Rokerthon,' and his last interview with the late Congressman John Lewis

By KC Baker
July 28, 2020 10:00 AM
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Al Roker
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Not having a five-year plan can lead to success just as much as having one can, according to Al Roker.

“If somebody had told you in January that we'd be living in the midst of the worst pandemic in over a hundred years, that there'd be a global meltdown, and that there was going to be this upheaval in social justice the likes of which the country hadn't seen since the 1960s, you would have looked at me and said you were crazy,” the longtime NBC weatherman and co-host of the network’s third hour of Today tells PEOPLE.

"Everybody's plans have been thrown out the window," the 14-time Emmy Award winner adds. “So being flexible and being open is one of the greatest skills you can develop."

Roker, 65, shares this and other words of wisdom (which he calls "Al-truisms") from his storied 40-year career in his latest book, You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success (Hachette Go, July 28).

Al Roker's Latest Book

Out Tuesday, You Look So Much Better in Person shows readers how to “weather the storm of life, no matter how torrential the downpour,” according to the book’s peppy description.

His latest tome is an “entertaining guide to achieving a life of happiness and success through the power of ‘yes!’" it says.

The idea for the book is simple, he says: “Here are some things that have gotten me through my career (and life) — and maybe they'll help you,” he says. “If nothing else, you'll just get a smile out of it.”

One of his favorite lessons can be found in the last chapter, which focuses on "Finding Yourself an A-Team" made up of people with different skill sets than your own.

“Nobody gets through this life by themselves,” he says. “We all need people to help us. The sooner you realize that and are open about it, the better off your life will be both personally and professionally.”

The Next 'Rokerthon'

Besides debuting his new book, Roker is gearing up to kick off another “Rokerthon” on Today. 

“I'm very excited,” he says.

His first Rokerthon in 2014 landed him a Guinness World Records title for "The longest live uninterrupted weather broadcast."

The following year he landed another title for “Fastest time to report a weather forecast in all 50 US states, which he did in seven days and 18 minutes.

He has yet to announce exactly what lofty title he’ll be going for this time. But he did tell PEOPLE that it will go down in history as yet another "first."

"It’s going to be the first live streaming event on Today All Day," the morning show’s new streaming service on Peacock and TODAY.com, he says.

Words of Wisdom from the Late Rep. John Lewis

During his chat with PEOPLE, Roker also touched on the important conversations he’s been having about racism in America on-air.

“We thought we were in this post-racial period,” he says. “Look, we had President Obama and we've had all these black elected officials and black sheriffs and police chiefs. The fact is, again, as we've discovered, we've just papered over that stuff."

After the massive protests following the murder of George Floyd in May, Roker believes things are finally different.

"That gives me hope," Roker says.

“I asked him about what he sees in this latest round of social unrest,” Roker says. “He said seeing the diversity — black, white, brown, Asian, Latinx — all together, protesting this injustice, gives him hope. He said this is different than what he saw in the sixties."

“Much like #metoo,” Roker adds, “I think a door's open and you're not going to be able to close that door."

You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success is out now.