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Al Roker celebrates 10 years on NBC’s ‘Today’

Weatherman has dropped over 100 pounds since gastric-bypass surgery
/ Source: The Associated Press

He’s only two-thirds the man he used to be, but Al Roker won’t be eating heartily to celebrate 10 years on NBC’s “Today” show. He’s dieting.

(MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)

“Today” was to mark the formerly rotund weatherman’s anniversary on the air Friday.

“I was just thrilled to get the gig to begin with,” Roker told The Associated Press. “Ten years later to still have it is not only thrilling but also somewhat of a puzzlement.”

Due to his gastric bypass operation in 2002, Roker spent the past few years as the incredibly shrinking man. With the Winter Olympics again near, his thoughts drift to the Salt Lake City games in 2002, just weeks before he went into surgery.

“I ate myself stupid,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m never going to eat like this again.’ The only trick was to make sure I didn’t have a heart attack before I did the deal.”

He was 330 pounds at his peak, and bottomed out at 200. He has gone back up to 225 pounds, which is why he’s trying to take some more off now.

“Today” is on a high right now, having beaten back a challenge from ABC’s “Good Morning America.” During the week of Jan. 16, the “Today” lead was up to 1.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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“When the country faces a crisis, like they did this summer with Hurricane Katrina, they make a decision — do I watch a show because it’s the headquarters for a Sunday-night soap opera, or do I watch the program because I know when there’s a crisis, these are the people I trust and go to?” he said.

The reference was to ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” which was frequently featured on “GMA” when that broadcast was surging last spring.

The core “Today” family of Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and Roker have been together since 1997, although perhaps not for long. Couric is considering jumping to CBS to anchor its evening news when her contract is up this spring.

“None of us can worry about that, because it’s not something we can control,” Roker said.