Parting is such sweet sorrow! Or, for Al Roker, just sorrow at the moment — during an interview with ET’s Katie Krause, he admitted he isn’t quite ready to face the impending departure of his longtime Today peer, Kathie Lee Gifford.
“Well, I think we’re just kind of ignoring it. That maybe she’ll change her mind. You know… it’s gonna be very bittersweet but, you know, she has been such a great part of Today, so it’s — I don’t wanna think about it!” Roker said.
— Katie Krause (@Katie_Krause) February 11, 2019
In an emotional on-air moment in December 2018, Gifford revealed she plans to retire in April 2019 after 11 years on Today. For the past decade, she has been a fixture on the morning show with her cohost of the fourth hour, Hoda Kotb.
When asked by Krause what he’d personally miss the most about Gifford after she leaves, Roker couldn’t choose only one thing. “Just, you know, her laugh, and her sense of humor and her faith,” Roker gushed. “She’s a really great combination of … live broadcasting, of real faith and a wicked sense of humor.”
According to Roker, he benefitted over the years from Gifford’s wisdom. In addition to encouraging him to be himself, Gifford led by example. “You know, that’s the one great thing about Kathie Lee — she kind of teaches by doing, not by telling you,” Roker said.
Not surprisingly, rumors of Gifford’s potential replacement have run wild since she announced her exit. However, Roker (who currently serves as Today’s resident weather anchor) insists he isn’t gunning for the job, saying, “Listen, if they need me to fill in, I’m happy to. But I think three hours of Al Roker is more than anybody really wants to see.”
Outside Roker, much speculation about Gifford’s replacement so far has centered on another Today personality: Jenna Bush Hager. And for the record, Hager hasn’t exactly refuted the claims.
Speaking to ET in January, Hager said of the possibility, “It would mean… it would be great. I feel like I have the best job. I get to sit next to these incredible humans, I get to travel the world and meet incredible people who are doing extraordinary things and so we’ll see. We’ll see.”
As for Roker, it’s understandable that he feels as though he might not be able to fill Gifford’s shoes. Not just out of respect for his longtime friend and colleague, but also for the sheer practicality of the matter — in the wake of Megyn Kelly’s recent departure, Roker was tapped alongside Dylan Dreyer, Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones to fill in on Today’s third hour.