Al Roker’s Wife Deborah Roberts Went ‘Ballastic’ When She Found Out He Was Doing This

Al Roker of the Today Show has been a staple on the NBC morning news program for over two decades. Married to fellow journalist Deborah Roberts of ABC News, Roker and his wife are used to the chaotic demands of life in the news room. Since Roker covers everything from weather to human interest stories, the variety of his post allowed him to take on a daunting challenge that he forgot to mention to Roberts.

Journalist Deborah Roberts and TV personality Al Roker attend the 45th Chaplin Award Gala honoring Helen Mirren at Alice Tully Hall
ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and ‘Today Show’ star Al Roker | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Al Roker launched ‘Rokerthon’ in 2014

Roker has always been a strong proponent of charities. In an effort to support the country’s troops, Roker came up with the idea of the “Rokerthon” in 2014 to raise money for the United Service Organizations (USO). After his colleague Natalie Morales did a story on a women in Norway who reportedly broke the Guinness World Record by conducting a 33-hour live broadcast, Roker became inspired to do the same. His goal was to donate the funds acquired through the on-air reporting marathon to the USO.

“We decided to start the Rokerthon at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12,” Roker wrote in his book, Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom For Modern Times, which he co-wrote with Roberts. “It was on MSNBC at the top of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and I hoped to break the record at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, during the Today Show.

Massive planning went into the endeavor, where Roker had to pull all of his resources within the NBC News department.

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“Little did I know what a major undertaking it would be – for everyone,” Roker revealed. “We needed a special team of producers, social media people, crew, official witnesses from Guinness, and lots of other details no one had considered when we said we were in. But we pulled it together.”

Al Roker forgot to tell wife Deborah Roberts about ‘Rokerthon’

While Roker remembered to manage all the moving parts of Rokerthon, one detail on the home front slipped his mind.

“One little thing: I forgot to tell Deborah,” Roker admitted. “Oh, sure a month or so earlier I had mentioned I was thinking about doing this stunt to raise money for the USO, but neglected to share one or two details… like the actual date – or even that we were, in fact, doing it!”

When Roker and Roberts were checking over their schedules as the Rokerthon date was approaching, he offhandedly told her of his plans.

“The weekend before, as we’re going through our calendars, I happened to just sort of toss out, ‘Oh, and of course I’ll be live on the air from Wednesday til Friday, doing Rokerthon, so I won’t…,” the NBC weather person recalled. “I never got a chance to finish my sentence. Deborah went ballastic!”

Deborah Roberts’ ‘well-placed outrage’ helped Al Roker prep for ‘Rokerthon’

When Roker casually mentioned his massive on-air undertaking, Roberts didn’t hold back on her reaction.

“‘YOU WHAT?'” Roker remembered his wife questioning. “‘When were you going to tell me this? What plans have you made? You can’t just get up there and be live for three days straight. Are you insane?’ I wasn’t sure which question to answer first. But I did realize a good rule of thumb: Before embarking on a potentially dangerous stunt on live TV, tell your significant other.”

Roberts’ forceful feedback gave Roker some food for thought and motivated him to be more thoroughly prepared.

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“Thanks to Deb’s well-placed outrage, I actually sought some medical advice and got clearance from NBC’s medical director,” Roker wrote. “I was told to stay away from caffeine early on, stay hydrated, bank sleep leading up to the event. Try to keep carbs to a minimum and eat higher-fat and higher-protein snacks.”

Roker ultimately had support from Roberts, where she frequently visited him during his mega on-air run with hot chocolate rations. Some famous faces including Candace Bergen, Alan Alda, and Aaron Sorkin also dropped by to help Roker stay the course.

The Today Show star remained on the air for 34 straight hours, setting the Guinness World Record and raising $80,000 for the USO. Roker repeated the feat with Rokerthons in 2017 and 2020.