(WITH VIDEO) – Students, faculty, staff and alumni were all surprised over Spring Break when they turned on their TVs on March 18 and were given the weather by a familiar Murray State face.
Grace Ritchie, freshman from Bardstown, Ky., had the experience of a lifetime when she was given the opportunity to do a weather report with Al Roker at “The Today Show” studios. She and a friend traveled to New York City over the break, and Ritchie said going to see a taping of “The Today Show” was at the top of her list of things to do while in the city.
“I’ve watched ‘The Today Show’ for as far back as I can remember,” Ritchie said. “So I always said if I were to go to New York, I had to go to the taping of the show.”
She explained that whenever she RSVP’d on the show’s audience website there was an option for her to sign up to be put in a drawing to be chosen to do the weather with Roker, but she never imagined that she would be the one chosen.
Ritchie, her friend and her friend’s family arrived at Rockefeller Plaza at 5:30 a.m. on the morning of the show taping.
“They had us line up on the street where they had a whole intersection blocked off,” she said. “And then they started interviewing all the groups and asking questions like ‘Where are you all from?’ or ‘When are you leaving?’ Then, a question came up and it was like ‘What did you rate ‘The Today Show’ on the list of things you must do in New York on a scale of one to five?’ The girls I was with were just like ‘Ask her,’ (Ritchie) and I was like, ‘Of course it’s a five.’”
Ritchie thought her only claim to fame was going to come from the short three-second section of the show that showed her and her friends holding their “Kentucky loves ‘The Today Show’” poster, but that was when things changed.
After that, she said a production assistant walked out of the building and asked who had RSVP’d to do the weather with Roker. Ritchie said all the hands in the audience went up.
Ritchie said then the man walked around the crowd asking everyone their names and checking them off the list. When she signed up for the event online, Ritchie had written a short autobiography about herself and the man had what she had written in front of him and referenced Murray State when talking to her.
“It took forever – I mean forever,” she said. “He went over to this group across from me and they were an older group of people from New Jersey and he was over there for a really long time before he went inside. Then 20 minutes later he came back out and he (the production assistant) comes over to me and he just said ‘Congratulations, you’re doing the weather with Al Roker today.’ And I just couldn’t believe it.”
The staff didn’t tell Ritchie anything before she went live on national television. All she knew was to act surprised like she did not already know she had won.
“First of all this was live television,” she said. “What if I said something silly? I was so nervous. I don’t know how I kept it together, but I got a picture with Al Roker and I’m going to keep it forever.”
Since her special appearance on “The Today Show,” Ritchie has become somewhat of a campus celebrity. From random students recognizing her across campus and professors calling her out in class to play the video, to President Bob Davies tweeting about her, Ritchie’s 15 minutes seem to be far from over.
Ritchie, a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi, said she has received messages from not only her sisters at Murray State, but also sisters from other chapters from across the country praising her cameo.
Ritchie was also recognized by the national AOPi headquarters’ Twitter account.
Story by Breanna Sill, Features Editor