How ‘Today Show’s’ Al Roker Won Over ABC’s Deborah Roberts After Years of Being in the ‘Friend Zone’
Al Roker is a Today Show legend, working as co-anchor, weatherman and feature reporter on NBC for over 20 years, according to Today.com. Roker often speaks lovingly of his wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, and three children – Courtney (from a previous marriage), Leila, and Nicholas.
Roker and Roberts clearly have a wonderful marriage, though at first it took some time for the weather forecaster to get out of the ‘friend zone’ with Roberts.
Met at work
Roker met Roberts in 1990 when she began her post at NBC as a general assignment reporter. “Al was so sweet,” Roberts told People in 1990. “He showed me pictures of his daughter and talked about his family. I just thought he was a nice guy, and that was that.” Since Roker was married at the time to former wife Alice Bell, he and Roberts were just on a friendship level.
Roberts eventually moved on to Today’s Miami bureau 10 months later, but the two stayed in touch via email. She wound up returning to New York in 1992 serving as a correspondent for Dateline NBC, and reconnected with Roker, who had split up with his wife.
Despite resuming their friendship, Roberts kept her options open. “She was going out with all these stud muffins,” Roker claimed, saying, “I wasn’t your type.” At the time, Roberts didn’t see Roker as a romantic prospect. “He was a nice guy but kind of annoying, overly chatty. I just didn’t think of him beyond a friend.”
Patience and persistence
Roker proved to be a persistent suitor. When Roberts was covering the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona for NBC, Roker would make a point of checking on her apartment for her. “Her refrigerator was appallingly sparse,” he said.”There was a jar of mustard, a bottle of champagne, some old cheese, and that was about it.”
The Today Show co-host made sure Roberts’ return was a warm welcome, having flowers and a full fridge for her arrival back home. “That was very touching,” Roberts recalled. “It was like, what is this guy trying to do?”
From there, Roker began to win over Roberts with his affable charm. “It was a gradual thing after that. He would ask me out, and we would go to dinner or maybe lunch, but I was dating other people. Then one thing led to another,” she revealed.
Putting career on hold
The couple had been dating for two years by the time December 1992 rolled around, and Roberts was getting impatient for a proposal. “Deborah was getting a little annoyed that it hadn’t happened over the holidays,” Roker admitted. “We had a chat, ‘So when will this happen?’ And I said, ‘Before Groundhog Day.’”
The weatherman kept his promise, and popped the question to Roberts on New Year’s Day at the Grand Canyon. “I thought, what a great place,” he said. “On the rim of the Grand Canyon. And if she says, ‘No,’ one of us isn’t coming back.”
The two tied the knot in 1995 at Manhattan’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Roker’s daughter Courtney from his marriage to Bell was just 8 years old at the time.
The couple then welcomed daughter Leila in 1998 and son Nicholas in 2002. Roberts made the tough decision to stop working in order to be home with Leila full-time when she was born, and how it was a challenge for both herself and Roker. “When we had Leila, it became a difficult point in our marriage because I was already working mornings, and ABC came to her and said, ‘We’d like you to do the newsperson’s job on Good Morning America,’” Roker said, according to Today.com. “Deborah decided to step back. Her career suffered some for it. You always feel guilty about that.”
Roberts admitted that it was hard to let such a prime career opportunity slip away, but commended Roker for his support. “I will admit that deep down in my heart of hearts I have felt at times that I have sacrificed more but I think also he’s also listened to me, too, and tried to feel a little bit of my pain,” she said.
Roberts eventually returned to to reporting, making this pair one of today’s most noteworthy news couples!