Dozens attend "Today" show broadcast
FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT — Farmington resident Shannon Blueeyes braved the cold early morning temperatures on Monday for the chance to appear on a “Today” show segment broadcast from the point where four states meet.
Blueeyes was one of many Today viewers who woke up early — in her case, at 1 a.m. — to be part of the crowd watching weather forecaster Al Roker's national forecast.
“I love the 'Today' show and wanted to see Al Roker,” she said as she held a sign declaring her support of NBC’s morning and evening news programs.
Roker was broadcasting from the monument on Monday as part of his attempt to secure a Guinness World Records title for the fastest time to report a weather forecast from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The challenge, named “Rokerthon 2: Taking America By Storm,” started Nov. 6 and has Roker reporting the weather on “Today” and other NBC newscasts.
Broadcasting from the monument provided Roker the opportunity to visit four states at once, "Today" show Vice President of Public Relations Megan Kopf Stackhouse said in an email.
Throughout the taping, Roker stood on the marker where the four states — New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah — meet and then stepped into each state to show he was there.
He also took time to visit with audience members and representatives from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Navajo Nation, which maintains the monument through its parks and recreation department.
In an interview before the 5 a.m. broadcast, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the national morning show contacted his office more than a month ago.
“It’s great exposure for Navajo Nation and also Ute Mountain because this is right here, on our land,” Begaye said, adding Roker would receive a Navajo Nation flag, a blanket and Navajo tea in a show of appreciation.
Samatha Salt drove from her home in Aneth, Utah, and, at 4 a.m., was the 10th vehicle in line outside the monument’s gates off U.S. Highway 160.
Salt has watched the show for 24 years and was wearing a "Today" show T-shirt and handkerchief while holding an orange foam microphone.
“I’m happy. I always wanted them to come out here,” she said.
Throughout the telecast, Roker and crew members were surrounded by groups standing at each side of the monument.
A large part of the group from Utah was comprised of students from Dixie State University while Colorado had a mixture of Ute Mountain Ute Tribe members and residents from as far away as Durango. Arizona was represented by the Navajo Nation.
Tonya Stinson, executive director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said about 70 people traveled from Farmington to the monument by motor coach through a partnership between the bureau, the New Mexico Tourism Department and San Juan College.
“It's nice people are proud to be from Farmington and be from New Mexico and show the love of their state,” Stinson said.
She said the group was enthusiastic, despite waking up in the middle of the night to attend.
That enthusiasm showed as group members displayed items representing New Mexico.
Among those who traveled on the motor coach were Farmington residents Sheila Mobley and Shawntay Wolfe.
This was Mobley’s second time seeing Roker. Pasted to her bright pink sign was a 2008 photograph of Roker and her at a "Today" show taping in New York City.
“Who needs sleep?” Mobley said with a laugh.
For Wolfe, it was a chance to represent her home state.
“I think it’s awesome that we can come and represent New Mexico,” Wolfe said.
Among the unique items to appear at the taping was a goat brought by Teec Nos Pos Chapter resident Sadie Benally.
Benally, who lives in Arizona, six miles from the monument, explained she brought the goat by request.
“I don’t know if they wanted it here for breakfast or what,” Benally said, then chuckled.
The goat stayed calm despite shouts of Roker’s name and roars whenever the camera panned the audience.
“I think my goat is a celebrity now. It can’t be butchered,” Benally said.
Whenever filming was in progress, Farmington resident Johnnie “Noonie” Dick held up the sand art he designed for the broadcast.
The piece had the "Today" logo in sand colored in red, orange and yellow in the center and surrounded by the Shiprock pinnacle, the Window Rock, a cliff dwelling from Mesa Verde National Park and a pair of buttes found in Monument Valley.
“I appreciate them coming down and visiting,” he said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.