(From Sandy Rivera, TODAY Booking Producer)
Hello, my name is Sandy Rivera, and I am a Booking Producer for NBC's Today Show. Whenever you see a guest on our show do you wonder how he or she was chosen to appear or how we got them to sit down and tell us their story? It's not as simple as it may look. I can tell you first hand it's very challenging, exciting, and competitive. The Networks are always competing for that first BIG EXCLUSIVE interview with whoever is making news at the moment. Sometimes we work on stories for months or even years and sometimes a story breaks, and within hours we have booked a guest live for the next morning.
Most breaking news stories begin with a news alert on our computer. That's where bookers come in. One of us will get a phone call asking us to get on a plane as quickly as possible and head to wherever the story is unfolding. Most of the time we're heading to small towns we've never heard of, and it’s usually not as simple as one plane ride. After hours of commuting we finally arrive at our destination and hit the ground running. We start knocking on doors, making phone calls and asking people around town questions in hopes of getting closer to the people we're looking for. It's important we pack smart and fast because we never know what the weather will be like or how long we will be there for. Our saving grace while on the road? Our GPS systems in our rental cars called Never Lost. I don't know what I would do without that friendly voice telling me where to turn and how far I am from my destination.
The hardest part is trying to beat the competition and making sure you're always one step ahead of everyone. Once we find our potential guest it's our job to make them feel comfortable and guide them through the media circus. So many times I've gotten to someone's house and their answering machine is full, their family members all across the country have producers calling them and they are overwhelmed and sometimes even a little frightened. This is normal - it's not everyday that you have the news media staked outside your house wanting you to go on live television to share your story.
Many times the people we're trying to get want nothing to do with us and would prefer to be left alone. While it’s hard for us to take no for an answer, sometimes we have no choice. We try our hardest to convince them to sit down with one of our anchors, but in the end it's their choice and all we can do is hope and keep our fingers crossed. Developing trust and being honest are the best tricks of the trade. The best stories to cover are those with happy endings, when our guests tell us amazing stories of survival or good luck.
Now you know what it takes to get a guest on TODAY.