Happy "Al-iversary" to Al Roker!
The TODAY meteorologist celebrated a special milestone on Friday when he marked 40 years working at NBC.
From his days at NBC Cleveland affiliate WKYC in 1978 to his 22 years with TODAY, the meteorologist from Queens has become a beloved fixture for his weather acumen, humor and love for his colleagues and viewers — in every neck of the woods.
Through 2,200 wake-ups at 3:45 a.m., 24 Rose Parades, 23 Thanksgiving Day Parades and 11 Olympics, Al has become part of the fabric of American life.
"What's not to love about Al?" Savannah Guthrie said.
His TODAY colleagues also wore special orange T-shirts with "Roker 40" on them to mark the occasion and renamed the plaza "Roker-feller Plaza" for a day.
"From the moment I stepped foot in WKYC in Cleveland to getting a job at WNBC, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven because my parents could actually turn on the TV and see me, to being here with all of you, it's been an amazing ride,'' Al said.
He received a special surprise when his wife, Deborah, and the youngest of his three children, Nick, 16, brought him a giant cake as he held back tears. They later treated him to some of his favorite barbecue food.
Al first joined TODAY in 1996, when legendary meteorologist Willard Scott announced his semi-retirement.
"I knew from the very beginning that he was a real great piece of talent,'' Willard said on TODAY Friday.
His longevity has impressed plenty of stars who have appeared on TODAY over the years, including many who have had long runs of success themselves. Winfrey, Stewart, Tina Fey, Betty White, Pierce Brosnan, Kenan Thompson, Ice Cube and more all sent their appreciation to Al on his big day.
"So Al, I got 25 years of doing the Oprah show. I was feeling pretty good with that, thinking that's a milestone record. And then I hear about you,'' Winfrey said. "Forty years. Four-oh. You win. You got it, congratulations, you win."
"You know what, Al you've been there so long, I think God call you and figure out what the weather's gonna be today,'' Ice Cube said.
Anyone who has ever traveled with Al knows how much he means to TODAY fans.
"If you want to get recognized in the airport, travel with Al Roker,'' Jenna Bush Hager said. "Everybody's like 'Al, Al!'''
"People can empathize with him, they can understand him, they can relate to him,'' former TODAY anchor Bryant Gumbel said.
The hashtag #ALiversary was trending on Twitter Friday morning as congratulations poured in for Al on his milestone.
Colleagues also noted that behind the funny, personable demeanor is one of the hardest workers at NBC.
"People might think Al is this lovable, hilarious, warm, jolly weatherman, but he takes his craft very, very seriously,'' Savannah said.
"Nobody works harder and nobody has more compassion for those we cover who are victims of storms and bad circumstances,'' NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt said.
Al has also become known for his compassion when welcoming others into the TODAY family.
"I was so nervous, but he greeted me with such a big hug, he was so kind, and he gave me words of advice,'' Jenna said.
"Al was the very first person who sort of put his arms around me when I started appearing on this show,'' TODAY anchor Craig Melvin said. "The Al Roker you get on TV is the same Al Roker you get when the camera is off."
He also has been a warm presence at difficult times in the lives of his friends and colleagues.
"It was the day that I had just come out of breast cancer surgery, and I was sitting in my hospital room,'' Hoda Kotb said. "He walked in, and I'll never forget that as long as I live."
"I remember when my husband Jay died in 1998, Al was so incredibly supportive and caring,'' former TODAY anchor Katie Couric said.
That compassion, humor and work ethic define a beloved member of the TODAY family who hopefully has many more milestones to come.
"Here's to another 40 years,'' Katie Couric said. "Love you, Al."