Looking Back: Local weatherman Al Roker inspired students during 2000 visit


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Sporting his OU apparel, MIS senior Alex Stockyj has Roker autograph his sweatshirt at the reception following his lecture at Meadow Brook Theatre.

Al Roker, weatherman of NBC’s “Today” show, visited Oakland University in 2000 and brought some sunshine to campus. 

Roker was in Meadow Brook Theatre lecturing about the importance of family and family values. 

“No matter what you choose to do, you are always your parents’ children,” Roker said. 

The main idea of his lecture was remembering your family heritage and where you came from, and noting the importance of family bondings. He continued by explaining how nowadays, families tend to run in separate directions instead of staying together.

“Al being able to find the balance between family and career is important, and it shows,” said Paul Franklin, chair of the Student Life Lecture Board (SLLB). 

Roker comedically intertwined stories about his own family from his childhood and what made him into the person he is. 

“We have many to remember that the root of it all is within the family,” said Roker. 

Everyone that attended laughed at Roker’s off-the-cuff jokes and enjoyed his captivating lecture. Martene Bates, a freshman who attended, spoke about his experience.

“He was one of the most entertaining speakers that I’ve seen,” he said.

Many students had positive things to say about Roker’s performance. 

“He was very entertaining, passionate, funny and seemed to be a humble man,” student Alex Miller said.

Roker talked about his weatherman career for the “Today” show. Throughout the audience’s questions, one attendee asked who influenced him the most. He said his sacrifices and his father have influenced him the most. 

“You have to start small and work your way up,” Roker said. “Be prepared and work hard, there’s no magic formula.”

He encouraged students to “keep plugging away” at their school work and keeping up good grades.

Roker isn’t just known for his weatherman position. While on air, he interviews celebrities, does cooking segments and gives technology updates. Moreover, he hosts a show called “Today’s Dad,” which gives fathers parenting tips and tricks. 

“Mr. Roker was a very positive, encouraging speaker, and it’s great that he took the time to come to Oakland University,” said then-freshman Michelle Canavesio. 

The SLLB and the Forensics Team brought Roker and many other powerful speakers to campus to share their career and life experiences and motivate students. 

Roker’s website, www.roker.com, is where he can be reached. On his website, there is information about him and his shows, along with a shop. 

Since Roker, many other influential speakers have come and gone from OU’s campus. Most recently, Brad Galli — another local newscaster — spoke on campus about his experience as a sports journalist and his connection to the university.

All speaker events are posted on OU’s SLLB instagram page and to their website. To make suggestions and/or comments about who comes to campus, or any ideas for programs, contact the SLLB. SLLB can be found within the Office for Student Involvement in the Oakland Center, room 49.