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Open Letter to the NBC: What are you doing to your Today Show Brand?

By Isabel Kallman

Dear NBC,
Most of the loyal readers of Alpha Mom by now have already watched (and gagged) as poor Heather B. Armstrong had to endure being questioned by Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today Show. The entire time Heather was on TV all I could think was I can’t believe they are wasting Dooce’s time. No less, as I live “Twittered” and “Flickred” the event I connected with the thousand other fans of hers as they watched the Today Show at 10:30am when normally they would be, um, mothering. Then, I had empathy for all of the collective lost “mommy & me” time. See, Heather is very important to us.
Now, Kathie Lee (KLG) has had a nice TV career. She hosted Live with Regis and Kathie Lee for 15 years and that is damn impressive and nothing to sneeze at. But… she gave up that job in 2000 and so much has happened since. I nearly fell off my chair when I learned that KLG is now hosting the fourth hour (!!) of the Today Show. And, not in a good way. Am I the only one who doesn’t think KLG should be hosting a news talk show any longer? Do you guys actually watch your own shows? KLG admitted to “not liking computers.” Out loud, in 2008.
Or, maybe I’m totally off-base, NBC, and you realize that KLG is who she is and she appeals to a certain demographic of woman that you want to reach in America at 10 am. But, why oh why, are you messing with the Today Show brand? Diluting it by 1) extending it to the fourth hour, and 2) having Kathie Lee host, does not serve you well. Instead, create another show, with another title for her.
I have never considered the Today Show to be cutting edge, but at least it’s always had bright personalities like Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric, and Matt Lauer running the place. Now, we have seen the statistics about online news stealing eyeballs from morning TV shows, but you don’t combat that by throwing in the towel and bringing KLG out of retirement thus weakening the Today Show. (There’s nothing Today about her or her POV. She’s all about yesterday.) Instead you go after the fresh stories– like you did on the mom blogging phenomenon– but you put it in the hands of capable journalists. Otherwise, your whole network falls into disrepair, as evidenced by the “Paid Programming” infomercials that kicked-in on the NY-NBC affiliate at 11am once Kathie Lee waved buh-bye.
Isabel Kallman
Chief, cook and bottle-washer
Alpha Mom, LLC
Just in case you haven’t seen the footage…

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • heels

    May 8, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Just… Ugh. She deserves better. WE deserve better. If companies truly believe that “Word of Mom” is so powerful, why would they relegate a piece on us to that hour and with those hosts. They were TERRIBLE! What a mistake. And I REALLY wanted to smack KLG there at the end. “I’m not judging, but there’s something wrong with it, I just don’t know enough to know what.” You don’t know enough? Then shut up.

  • mary

    May 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I have to giggle a little at KLG pissing everyone off like she did. If anyone can take her down, it’s the bloggers. KLG better recognize! lol!

  • Angela

    May 8, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    As soon as I heard that the interview was being bumped to the fourth hour, I knew it wouldn’t be good. The Today Show doesn’t have a very good reputation when it comes to being supportive of “Mommy Bloggers,” and to have KLG in on the interview seemed a bit pitiful to me. “Hi. I’m past my prime, and I seem to be a bit jealous of this young woman who has achieved fame with a website–something I admittedly know nothing about. Here. Let me pretend to be concerned about the exploitation of her child, although I’m known for exploiting thousands of Salvadoran women. Pass the cheesecake.”
    I was really hoping they would flash the new book a few times and congratulate Heather on her successes. But deep down I knew that would never happen.

  • Angella

    May 8, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Well said, Isabel!!
    I sat through the whole segment yesterday blinking in disbelief. Heather was the epitome of style and grace, and KLG made a fool of herself.
    NBC could have done a WAY better job of everything, and come out looking like they were cutting edge.
    Instead, they looked like they were ten years behind the times.

  • kyran

    May 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    In the nine and a half years since I came home to be a Mom, this heartland mother of three has watched morning television talk shows ONLY when a blogger I read was being featured. Needless to say, I nothing I saw while waiting for the anticipated segment could persuade me to tune in between times.
    My expectations of this format are so low already, I was just happy they didn’t bring out an “expert” to chastise any of the bloggers. As you point out so well, they seem to be chasing their losses with more and more irrelevance.

  • Mir

    May 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Yeah, I was feeling sort of annoyed about the editing of our (taped) segment, right up until I had to sit through the trainwreck of their time with Heather. Then I felt like we’d gotten off pretty easy….

  • Babybloomr

    May 8, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    In a segment filled to the brim with unimaginable dumb-assery, the abrupt, bizarre-segueway ending with KLG using that weird, Valley Girl voice to cut dooce off by babbling something about “…and if it had a terrace guess what Heather, I’d want to learn how to make an outdoor room, which we’re about to do…” left me stuck somewhere between aghast and agog. My mouth was literally hanging open. Kathie Lee needs to change her meds.

  • catnip

    May 9, 2008 at 8:37 am

    And they air quoted mommybloggers!! Who does that??

  • cagey

    May 9, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Excellent post, Isabel.
    KLG shot herself in the foot with her hypocrisy and ignorance. However, what I will never forgive is the incredibly cheap shot she lobbed at Heather just before closing and then did not even give Heather any respect by letting her respond.

  • Meghan

    May 9, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    The whole thing was a big let down. When KLG cut Heather off for her awkward segue for the outdoor segment I wanted to throw a shoe at the TV. Heather deserves better. WE deserve better.

  • Belinda

    May 9, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    The sad thing is, none of the valuable internet feedback will ever reach KLG, because she’s so darned askeert of that there electrical-box.

  • Karen

    May 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I think what this brought home for me more than anything else was the realization that we bloggers really are an insular community. I’m pretty far removed from the mainstream at this point and rarely watch single-digit TV anymore, and as a professional blogger who’s online more hours than not I’ve become accustomed to being around other people like me. But seeing the blogging phenomena, no means a new thing anymore, reduced to a set of slightly-befuddled air quotes on (like you said, far from cutting edge but still) national TV was…odd. Are we evolving into two distinct societies, one “askeert of that there electrical-box” (LOVE that phrase, Belinda!), and one that Twitters and Flickrs with gleeful abandon?
    And how will we coexist?

  • Sam

    May 12, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Would the Today show have a computer nerd interview a football star? Then why in the world would they have ridiculously stupid KLG interview Heather? That interview was terrible, awkward and I have no use for KLG.

  • Lisa P

    May 13, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    This is an intersting post.
    Perhaps NBC was getting clobbered in the ratings by Rachel Ray and needed to do something extreme. I pulled snippets of articles discussing NBCs reasoning beind hiring Kathie Lee…
    “NBC is gambling that she’s better known for her one-of-the-gals cheesiness and loquacity—she famously discussed conceiving her children and stuffed tissues into her bra before a live appearance by Carmen Electra—than for the scandals that dogged her a decade ago.
    Surprisingly she’s not turning away viewers. But she’s not attracting them either..Reviews are mixed
    Kathie Lee Doesn’t Budge ‘Today’ Ratings
    Im curious to see the most recent numbers.

  • Sherry

    May 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Wow she was awful! I am so happy she is into protecting Heather’s child even though she gave America a blow by blow of her two kids durring her run on Regis. I think she may be “anti internet” but I bet that husband of hers has some favorite sites.
    She is a poor example of a TV personality can’t we find a cruise ship for her to go on somewhere?
    Oh she just compared egg whites to colostrum on the cooking portion! I feel sorry for her coanchor!

  • CoolWebMom

    May 23, 2008 at 8:56 am

    I just saw this was posted from Kathie Lee on her blog –
    From Kathie Lee Gifford, TODAY host
    Just finished Monday’s show starting our sixth week. The time has just flown. The shows are so packed full and fast-paced. Loved “Eduardo” day (video) and having my Mom on for Mother’s Day. She has made me laugh my entire life. It was great to see Rosie. She always makes for “lively” TV.
    Speaking of “lively” TV–for any of you that found our interview with Heather Armstrong (video) offensive, I certainly wasn’t “judging” her decision to blog about her daughter. I simply have tremendous fears about the Internet, which didn’t exist when I first did my show with Regis. It’s natural to fear what one does not understand. I am far more careful now with what I share on TV or in print. Hence, my “mixed emotions” on the subject. I wish Heather nothing but the best and look forward to having her join us on Today again soon.
    I’m still meeting new producers and crew members here–how many people are on the Today Show staff??! Can’t begin to describe how friendly and supportive everyone has been.

  • Kaza

    June 2, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a train wreck. I do think though that Heather came off beautifully, while Hoda (who I think is way better than this lousy gig they’ve given her) and KLG came off ditsy and out of touch.

  • coolwebmom

    June 23, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Don’t worry, At the speed in which things change in morning tv, there will probably be another talk show or a different show or something off the wall unexpected in that hour in no time.

  • Esther

    June 30, 2008 at 10:05 am

    AMEN SISTER! Why not have someone cool like Ann Curry do the interview with Heather??? Kathie Lee, please. She is NOT an example to mothers like us out there. Personally, I stopped watching the Today show when Katie left. It just isn’t the same.