So often the story behind the story is never told, and sometimes the backstory trumps the actual article. Serendipity, persistence, maybe N’Awlins voodoo…but if you ask Hoda Kotb, she believes it was pure karma. It all began when my daughter, Julie, and I traveled to New York City for the first time.
My plans for the last day in New York, a week before Christmas, was to get up early and catch the Today Show. The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and I peeked out the window to find freezing rain and a sloppy snow in 20-degree weather. I didn’t have the heart to wake my daughter from her long winter’s nap, so I crawled back in bed. Eventually we got up, packed, and watched the Today Show and Hoda’s new show on TV. We ventured out, made one last whirl on the subways to FAO Schwartz, then back to Times Square and Broadway to check out.
Walking back to the hotel, Julie grabs my arm and says, “Mom that was Hoda Kotb that just passed us, I remember her polka-dot dress from this morning.” I looked up and watched her zooming down 42nd Street with those spike heels and I took chase, running after her. My daughter, totally embarrassed, did not share my enthusiasm and stayed behind.
Let’s stop a minute, and let me introduce you to Hoda and my infatuation. New Orleans cradled Hoda in her early years as a reporter and anchor with WWL TV forging a symbiotic bond she holds so dear. She left in 1998 for NBC’s Dateline and now co-hosts the Today Show’s fourth hour with Kathie Lee. For more than a decade this N’awlins fledgling has traveled the globe covering Sri Lanka’s Tsunami, Middle Eastern wars, and even risked her life in Burma to capture a heroin’s story. But she’s still a Southern gal, and like a love affair, Hoda feels the city’s pain and celebrations.
So back to the story…I yelled, “Hoda, Hoda, I’m from New Orleans.” She stopped dead in her tracks, gave me a huge hug squealing how much she misses the Big Easy. I explained it was our first trip to New York, our last day, and how I embarrassed the hell out of my daughter.
She asked if I had a camera and inquired about Julie. In the middle of the busy NYC streets I began screaming for Julie to join us, which she did and we began taking photos. I told her I was a writer for Southern Breeze and would love to feature her in an article, but forgot to get her contact info.
We said our goodbyes and I contacted NBC the next day explaining the story but with no response. Disappointed, but persistent, I got to work sending the email listed below with the picture of us.
I’m the crazy gal that chased you down the streets of New York right before Christmas. I was with my daughter and we took pictures, and you gave me a big hug…a memory that will last a lifetime.
Now down to business. Just minutes after our meeting I called my editor of Southern Breeze and told him we met, but silly me forgot to exchange contact info. He told me he would “stop the presses” if I could line up an interview. I ran into several dead ends until I heard you on WWL Radio with Garland and Spud for the Obama inauguration. You were so powerful, laughing one minute and crying the next. You had me tearing up driving across the GNO Bridge.
So here we are. Finally!!
It would be an honor to share your story with readers across the gulf coast. I can do the interview over the phone, but a photo shoot and interview in New Orleans would be so cool! Any chance you might be coming down in the near future, or sometime this year?
Still no response, so after I heard her on Garland’s show, it hit me, I’ll contact Nancy, Garland’s wife. I knew Garland and Nancy from previous interviews, reached out to her for help in gaining NBC contact info, and wham, had an NBC contact. In no time I received a a reply, “Hoda would love to an interview with you.”
I was in! I did it! Well not yet. It was early February and days, then weeks passed with no response from Hoda’s assistant, so I emailed Hoda. It was early April, I was on a press trip in Nashville on a tour bus when I received my first text message from Hoda Kotb with big hearts and apologizes. She sent a text to her assistant copying me asking her to take care of it and by mid April I was on the phone with Hoda with a generous 45 minute phone interview.
But there’s more. Stay tuned for my next post on the quotes that didn’t make it in to this Southern Breeze article.