Read below for a post from Brad Hook, who was our "Anchor for Today" contest winner last week. He sent us a blog on the entire experience:
The "Anchor for Today" experience was pretty mind blowing for an Iowa farm boy who has lived in the exact same spot for nearly 42 years. Don't get me wrong, I've traveled nationwide, BUT, never to a place like this. A black Lincoln Towncar picks my wife and me up at the airport and off we go to the "BIG APPLE" and our very first taste of New York City traffic. My eyes were wide open; my wife's were wide shut! She doesn't take driving bumper to bumper at high rates of speed, weaving in and out of lanes, real well! Once we arrived at the Rockefeller Plaza Club Quarters........the adventures began.
Shawn (wife) and I instantly took off walking around Manhattan, up and down 5th Avenue and over to Broadway and Times Square. The number of people, huge buildings and Taxi's astounded us, snapping pictures left and right of the stores in which we had received catalogs from for years. Then back to the hotel room to rest up for the Today Show on Wednesday. After advancing in the contest, the rest of the week we went to see Hairspray and Momma Mia! and took a carriage ride in Central Park. Memories that will last a lifetime.
My nine day Today Show experience was filled with a rainbow of different emotions. One of the biggest surprises was just how small the Today Show sets are.....inside and out. When you're at home you assume the place is huge and in reality it is NOT at all. Secondly, the Anchors were just so normal acting! They really are the same in real life as they seem on TV. Polite, fun, crazy, yet very, very professional! I didn't get to see as much of Meredith and Matt, but Al, Ann and Natalie truly became a good friend from this contest. This was my goal and it was fully achieved. Winning was just a little icing on the cake! OK, maybe a lot of icing!
Probably the thing I enjoyed the most was just getting to meet and talk to new people. The multitude of NBC employee's involved in making the Today Show #1 and their dedication to the program put a new definition to the word commitment! From the interns, to the research and developers, to the assistant producers, producers, and senior producers, and last but certainly not least, the control room, camera and sound crews and everyone else in the crews that make every second of the Today Show run like clock work. My hat goes off to you.
Other people I really enjoyed talking to held different positions that the normal viewer might not ever think about. Donna and Doug in wardrobe were awesome. Thanks Doug for giving Dave and I the Saturday Night Live set tour. I'll never forget it. The bodyguards for the Anchors were also interesting to talk to, having retired from the NYPD after 20 years of service. Two fire fighters that were there for the fondue segment opened my eyes once again to just how much pain and suffering their profession has had to overcome since 9/11. As you can tell I'm a real talker, but that's how you learn!
I'm so glad I took the time to show the world two minutes of my silly life, in a contest that has changed my family and me forever. I will keep on managing my cattle business to the best of my ability, but am anxious to walk through some new doors that may open and check things out. It never hurts to look, and if you don't like what you see, you can always slam it and run the other way. Thanks to you all for my extended 15 minutes of fame. I hope I see more of you, and you of me. -- Brad Hook