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This Is Today

Jason Allentoff on the set of the Today Show
Jason Allentoff on the set of the Today Show in 1999 (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ)

This week marks a milestone in the history of television. On Friday, January 13th, the NBC will celebrate 60 years of their morning show, Today. The show has a lot of meaning to me and I plan to be outside the Rockefeller Center studio bright and early for their special broadcast. It’s because of the show that I bring you the news each weekday morning.

Today Show
Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ

The Today Show began broadcasting from New York on January 14th, 1952 at 7 a.m. Eastern time. Dave Garroway was the host. This was obviously long before I was even a twinkle. I was born in 1981 by the way.

When I was younger, I became very interested in current events. While many of my peers preferred lunch as their favorite subject, mine was social studies and history. I also enjoyed those assignments where we had to locate an article from the newspaper and bring it to class for discussion. The love of staying up to date with news and information continued throughout most of my elementary school run into high school.

It was in 1994 that I was home sick from middle school when I stumbled on The Today Show. It was a great mix of news and entertainment that I immediately fell in love with. The hosts at the time? Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric. From then on, I would try to at least watch the first hour of Today before heading off to school.

30 Rock
Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ

A year after, my dad took me to Rockefeller Center for the NBC Tour. It was a Saturday morning. Right before we went inside the massive 70 story 30 Rockefeller Plaza, or G.E. Building, we stopped outside Studio 1A, the street-level, glass enclosed home of my favorite morning show. Outside, we met Jack Ford, the anchor of Weekend Today at that time and weatherman Joe Witte, who moved on to another station in the U.S. but who still does voiceovers for the show to this day. It was a great experience and one that stuck with me.

Growing up, I wanted to become the next Steven Spielberg. Movies were my thing and the whole filmmaking process was mesmerizing to me. I studied as much as I could about the subject and even received a video camera at a younger than normal age. Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I was accepted into the FPAC program at Howell High School for video production and acting classes. In my senior year, we had to do something huge for our final project. I got the idea of going to NBC, seeing the Today Show behind the scenes and documenting it on video. After bombarding NBC’s publicity department with phone calls, faxes, emails and even standing outside the studio with a sign, the call came. Come on down!

It was April 9th, 1999. It was so exciting taking the bus to Rockefeller Plaza. I was with my classmate and friend Krys. She was coming along as my camera operator. The crowd outside the studio was the largest they ever had at that time before their concert series began. I was brought inside and given a tour of the studio, control room, makeup & wardrobe departments – everything! This was all during the actual live show. Afterwards, I had a chance to sit down with hosts Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and newsreader Jodi Applegate.

Outside the Today Show studio
Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ

It was something that stuck with me. From then on, I started studying journalism, TV and radio news and communication in general. This spilled over into my college major.

So in honor of 60 years of TODAY and 13 years since I was there, I will be outside the studio this Friday morning hoping to get a chance to talk to Matt and Katie once again just to tell them about my accomplishments. Check out the video message and the full interview below. Feel free to leave your comments!

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