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Can NBC Today Show Keep Americans Happy Without Natalie Morales?

Maura Sweeney-with-Natalie-Morales-of-Today-Show.jpg

Meeting with Natalie Morales of NBC's Today Show

Can NBC keep Americans happy if Natalie Morales exits the Today show?

As a podcaster, author and HuffPost contributor whose mission is to inspire living happy – inside out, I was prompted by recent news about Natalie Morales to reflect upon well-being in her career.

I am no media maven, rarely watch morning TV and hardly ever check into the latest buzz about celebrity news. But with popular outlets like TV Guide and US magazine reporting that the familiar face of Natalie Morales may no longer brighten America’s mornings, I had to weigh in on the matter.

One chilly November day several years ago, I met Natalie Morales. We were on the outdoor set of the NBC Today show. At the time, my husband and I were first time publishers, mid-lifers who exchanged comfortable lives as owners of a computer firm because we wanted to positively impact culture.

With lots of effort, enthusiasm and ingenuity, our initial published series grew in popularity as school systems were buying, Boston Globe Children’s Book Festival cited the work and HSN featured the books to a complete sell-out of 5-star ratings.

When our author learned we were heading to New York, she asked if we might visit the Today show. Could we deliver a set of the books to Natalie Morales? She was a national TV personality, and a preschool mom.

I seized the opportunity for more publicity and arrived at Rockefeller Center with a promotional sign — just in case cameras panned past me as Al Roker circulated among the congregation of visitors to the show. (He did.)

With four hours of observation that day, I gained a few pleasant insights into Natalie Morales. The most notable was that she demonstrated no apparent sense of entitlement and no need for special attention. To the contrary, she moved equally among co-workers and crowds. Whether she engaged with the Today show’s cast and crew or the program’s gawking onlookers and fans, her demeanor remained consistent.

Today is an easier program to view from the warmth and comfort of one’s own couch. But my field trip that day was worth the experience and the wait. After watching Giatta and her family prepare an Italian meal and Martha Stewart hawk a new line of dog collars, I was pleasantly surprised to learn from her producer that Natalie would oblige my request for her time. We met after the show.

During our brief exchange, I found Natalie Morales as gentle and engaging in person as she appears to us on TV. Her smile was warm and natural, her crystal clear eyes conveying intelligence mixed with good humor. She graciously accepted the books but not before remarking about colorful images of furry spiders and the nursery rhyming text contained within our series.

“My son will love these,” she told me. “He is the perfect age for these stories. I’ll surprise him with one tonight before I put him to bed.”

As publisher, I was glad to know this delivery mission was accomplished. But what made me happier was my encounter with Natalie Morales, a national personality who conveyed kindness and grace during a private, one-on-one exchange with a stranger. She was a refined woman, worthy of her current stature.

Since that chilly morning, I’ve tuned into Today on several occasions and was admittedly surprised to find this rising star eclipsed by others. Why, I wondered, wasn’t Natalie more prominently featured? Didn’t Today show producers want to gain deeper connections or improve its intimacy with viewers? Apparently, the answer has been no.

Certainly no expert on morning TV, I would be happy to see Natalie Morales appear at a new media home. Perhaps like Katie Couric who flourished after she left CNN, Natalie Morales will be better appreciated in a venue that plays to her strengths.

As American culture continues to evolve, I’d like to see Natalie Morales’ star rise in a new outlet. With her intelligence, personality and depth, she can become the treasured face for America’s emerging audience of mindful viewers.

With a show to call her own, she’d probably be a bit happier, too!

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Maura is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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