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Confessions of a News Freak MAG
The dim sky collided with the bright lights of New York towering over me. Clutching my carefully made sign, I shivered and tried to move my frozen legs. I looked at my watch - five minutes until the "Today Show" was on air. That meant another 30 minutes until a weather report and an hour and a half until the co-hosts came outside. Determined, I watched the monitors excitedly. Standing in Rockefeller Plaza in front of this studio had always been my crazy dream.
My dad and I had woken up at the crack of dawn and trudged many blocks to Rockefeller. My sign was perfectly crafted and stated my reason for braving the December cold: Katie, Matt, Al and Ann, I'm a Future TODAY Co-Host. My friends and family had been informed, or rather warned, that they had better watch for me on TV - or else.
We arrived a little late and, to my disappointment, were in the fifth row. Masses of people, each with a sign bearing a cutesy, attention-getting slogan, screamed their lungs out. In front of us a group of annoying blond girls with cowboy hats sang Texas songs as loudly as they could. Their gigantic sign blocked any view as well as any sunlight streaming from behind the massive GE building, NBC's home. It was scarily cutthroat, with people shoving elbows and signs competing for the camera. I, though, was still giddy with joy.
The first hour passed. The annoying Texans had gotten on camera and left. I had moved up a row and could see the monitor and the window to the studio lounge.
"I can see Matt Lauer," I screamed to my freezing dad.
"That's great," he replied through chattering teeth.
Around me, I could hear people discussing leaving. As soon as they did, I thrust myself into their spot. Twenty minutes later I was in the front row. Now it was mostly die-hard fans. I waved my sign and continued to wait, confident that Janice Huff (who was in for Al Roker) would see my sign and not be able to resist meeting a future colleague.
The third and last hour of "Today" had just begun, and I could see Janice putting on her coat through the window. I bit my nails nervously, waving my sign in her view.
Janice scanned the crowd and walked to the mass of people. I still had a chance. As the cameraman said "On-air," Janice began to walk toward us. We went wild, like a colony of angry bumblebees. People screamed strange remarks that one would only scream to be on television. I, however, tried to remain calm and reminded myself that I was not here to be on television, but to see my future workplace and meet my favorite newscasters. (I can name every NBC journalist by beat or recognize them by voice.)
Janice stopped in front of us - close enough so that I could have grabbed the microphone. She proceeded to do the weather report and afterwards turned around, holding the microphone out to ... the old woman next to me. My jaw dropped.
"Going to Times Square tomorrow?" Janice asked the woman.
"I don't know," she boringly replied. I waved at the camera, taking advantage of the moment, but was devastated when Janice walked away. We were off-air. The woman next to me was happy but didn't really care.
"Wow, I got to be on TV with ... what's her name?" I looked at her, unsure whether to feel sorry for her or disgusted.
"Her name is Janice Huff." I eyed her boring sign. She didn't even have the co-hosts' names right. I sighed. It was disappointing enough that Katie Couric was on vacation, but I didn't even get to talk with anyone.
The show was over. I stood frozen, hoping that by some crazy chance someone would run outside and sign an autograph for me. Finally, my dad nudged me. I stopped being disappointed, and was giddy again.
I had done it! I had seen my future workplace and seen Matt, Janice and Ann in person, or at least through a window. After two and a half years of watching "Today" every morning in the summer and taping it every school day, I had made the ultimate news freaks' pilgrimage to the Mecca of newscasting - Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza.
Although my friends and family have called me obsessed (which I do not doubt), being one of the desperate, freezing fans on the plaza brought a new perspective to newswatching. Although I hope to, I don't know if I'll make it to the other side of the silver guard gate, greeted by masses of giddy fans like I was once. I do know, however, that if I am, I'll be sure to be extra nice to any hopeful colleagues.