May 14, 2013 at 5:13 PM ET
There’s probably no one better suited right now to listen to tales of heartbreak from behind a bar than A.J. Clemente.
The aspiring TV anchor became a viral video sensation last month when he accidentally let two expletives slip during his first appearance on NBC affiliate KFYR in North Dakota.
Despite apologizing for the incident, which Clemente called a “rookie mistake,” the Bismarck station let him go less than 24 hours later. Clemente packed his belongings and drove home to Delaware, where he promptly went back to work as a bartender in Dewey Beach.
“It’s not something I want to do as a career,” he told TODAY. “It’s just to pay the bills.”
Clemente appeared on TODAY soon after being fired and explained that the show went live 30 seconds earlier than he expected. Meanwhile, he wasn’t wearing an earpiece and didn’t hear a countdown, and was frustrated over not being able to pronounce the names of runners in the London Marathon, which he needed to say for an upcoming segment. That’s when he muttered those now regrettable curse words.
Savannah Guthrie, sympathetic to the pitfalls of live television, urged someone to give Clemente another shot. “If anybody’s watching,” she said, “we think a second chance would be a great thing.”
That offer has yet to arrive. Clemente said that he’s received some interest from reality television shows, but he’s eager to anchor news, entertainment or sports programs.
“Right now, it’s just me, getting back to before I got the job in Bismarck,” Clemente said, adding that he’s sending out his resume to stations across the country. He’s willing to wait “as long as it takes” to find a new position.
In the meantime, he’s often recognized behind the bar – and those conversations can be awkward.
“I definitely take it with a smile,” he said. “Some people make me laugh and sometimes I’m tired of hearing it and keep on going.”
Clemente is optimistic that this will be but just a footnote in a very long television career.
“Hopefully it’s a stepping stone,” he said. “I never thought I would get national attention for this, but everything happens for a reason.”