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10 Quick Questions for Carson Daly

Busy TV personality embraces his 50th birthday

spinner image carson daly wearing brown jacket against pink ombre background
Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal/ Getty Images

Back in 1998, MTV tapped a young Carson Daly to host its wildly popular Total Request Live. Fast-forward 25 years, and Daly’s living a broadcaster’s dream: He currently co-anchors NBC’s Today and hosts The Voice. In June, when he celebrated his 50th birthday, he posted a photo of the AARP membership invitation he received in the mail prior to the big day. “AARP was the first to remind me that I was turning 50,” he laughs.

Happy belated 50th birthday. What did you do to celebrate?

I did my best to hide. I have a spotlight on me a lot because of what I do for a living, so for holidays and birthdays, I’m a pretty private person. I worked at MTV forever, then late-night television, NBC, The Voice, radio and music — my life has been one giant party. So when it came time for me to turn 50, I just wanted to, like, not party. So I had a really nice weekend with some immediate friends and family and barbecued. I was in my flip-flops, very happy.

You posted a picture of your AARP invitation on Instagram. Have you joined?

I don’t know how! This is all new to me, so I need to dive in. But I will be a proud AARP card-carrying member once I join. I don’t shy away from being 50 or this chapter of my life. I wear it like a badge of honor.

spinner image carson daly, craig melvin, savannah guthrie, al roker, and hoda kotb at anchor desk with papers and today show cups
In addition to hosting "The Voice," Daly co-anchors NBC’s “Today” show.

In your role on Today, you’ve interviewed some amazing people. Who is your dream guest to talk to?

I’ve been lucky to interview so many people, [but] Tom Hanks is a guy that I don’t really get to interview when he comes on the Today show. My colleagues usually do. But I love Tom so much. He’s just so easy. Those are the ideal interview subjects, because they’re so gracious, they have such great answers and they’re always happy to be there. Also, I handle a lot of the food segments on Today, which is a lot of fun. I make pizzas now as a passion project. We hold these elaborate Sunday pizza-making events at home. [Chef] Chris Bianco is kind of my pizza mentor. He’s probably the greatest pizza maker in the country right now. So somebody like that would be an incredible get for me.

You've been vocal about your struggles with anxiety in an effort to destigmatize conversations about mental health. How have you seen positive changes from your advocacy?

It's been extremely meaningful for me. Working with Project Healthy Minds — the nonprofit organization that I’m on the board of directors for — gives me the opportunity to have a front seat at the table of advocacy. Most people are suffering in silence. I talk about it pretty much every day. I’ve been a part of cultural events like MTV and Woodstock, but today, the thing that people come up to talk to me about is mental health. It’s been really cool to kind of roll up my sleeves and share my story. Hopefully it helps other people.

Barmageddon, your show with Blake Shelton on the USA Network, has been picked up for a second season. What’s your drink of choice?

I don’t have a name for it, but I drink Ketel One Vodka and Fresca, which is a grapefruit carbonated drink from the ’80s that has made quite a resurgence — I think thanks to me. There was a Fresca shortage last year, and it almost ruined my life. We enjoy a good bourbon at the end of the show too. It’s hard not to have a bourbon when you’re in Nashville.

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Shelton retired from The Voice after 23 seasons. What will you miss most about him not being part of the show?

Well, a lot. He was my wingman at the show. We have the glam room that was just him and I, where we would start off every day for an hour and laugh and listen to music. We would eat meals together. I’m mourning the loss of him at work. He and I have very similar outlooks. I’ll miss his sense of humor and his big dumb laugh. He never made work feel like work. He always made it feel like a party.

People are excited to see Reba McEntire as a coach on The Voice. What do you think she will bring to the table?

I look at her as like the godmother of country music. I mean, everything runs through Reba. She’s fantastic. She’s so funny. She’s so nice. She’s so talented. We’re so lucky to have her.

Music has been a major theme in your career. If you could only listen to five songs for the rest of the year, what would they be?

I could never do that. That’s like asking a chef to name five spices they could never cook with again. I will tell you that Bob Marley’s Legend is one of the great classic albums of all time. During the pandemic, as my anxiety was a little triggered and the world was obviously very bizarre for everybody, that album really saved me. I put it on every day. I know every song on it. I couldn’t really list five songs — that would literally be impossible.

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You are an avid golfer and won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2017. What are some of your favorite courses to play?

Winning that Pebble Beach Pro-Am was the highlight of my life. Jordan Spieth was next to me when I got my trophy. For a golfer, that was like winning the Super Bowl. My family was all there. So Pebble Beach [is a favorite]. Golf was the thing that my stepdad and I bonded over after I lost my dad to cancer and my mom remarried when I was young. The Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles is one of my favorite courses in the world. I’m a member there and I grew up playing there. Those are two of my absolute favorites.

What else do you do for fun?

I had back surgery last August. … I’m like the Al Bundy of the Today show. I just talk about anxiety and back surgery! I was immobile for a long time, but right now I’m in a good place because my back is healed. I’m about to start picking up the tennis racket again. I’m back to being a lot more active than I’ve been the last year and a half. If I have a day off, I love to fire up the grill, put on some reggae, pour a beer, smoke some meat and have the kids swim in the pool. I love to be around my children [Jackson, 14, Etta, 10, London, 8, and Goldie, 3]. They’re my favorite thing. 

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