Like so many of my better decisions, this one was my wife Deborah Roberts’ idea. She's a senior correspondent for ABC News, and when she heard I was posting some videos about life around the house during quarantine on Instagram, she said, “Oh, you should ask Nick to help you."
Nick is our youngest child, 18, and he's on the autism spectrum. So I thought getting him involved was a great idea. Nick started running the camera, then started commenting from the wings, and before I knew it, boom, he was like any other good broadcaster — trying to pad his part and doing his best to take over.
What We're Cooking on IGTV shows you things like what we do with our Sunday leftovers, or how we've started composting during the pandemic or tips on preparing a favorite recipe, like our brown-rice-and-dark-beer shrimp boil. We did a great one on summer grilling.
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Ready for Your Close-Up?
Al Roker has some production tips to share
Shoot from above. Nobody looks good when the camera is pointing up at your chin. Keep the camera at eye level or higher.
Come out of the shadows. Make sure your face is well illuminated, with no light source directly behind you.
Skip the sunset. Those digital backgrounds on some platforms are distracting. Instead, put some fresh flowers behind you, or sit in front of a bookshelf.
But for me it's more than just a collection of fun video clips. The nicest part about this experience has been spending more time with Nick, and watching him grow and learn. He's got a great sense of humor — he gets that from his mother — but he also takes it seriously. He's focused, he's curious, and he knows exactly when to give his dad a little zing on camera. The audience loves it.
There were a couple of weeks when Nick couldn't do the show because of other commitments, and we just put the whole thing on hiatus, because nobody really wants to see me at home without my star sidekick.
You want the best for your kids, and this period has been hard because all our normal routines have just been turned upside down. But Nick is adaptable. He's a good swimmer, and he's been swimming in a nearby lake to stay in shape. He's thriving at school, even though it switched to Zoom.
Being in the house together all the time can be challenging for anyone, and it's especially hard when your child has additional needs. But I'm so proud of the person Nick is becoming, and so glad I have this extra time to see him maturing into an adult. He's self-sufficient, and he's stretching into new areas. He's enjoying life and seeing he can do different things.
It's fun making this show together, but it's also just really important — and one of the gifts of this weird pandemic moment — to bond as father and son. No matter what other troubles he's facing, he knows that as long as he's with family, everything's going to be OK. —As told to David Hochman
Al Roker, 66, is a weather and feature anchor for the Today show on NBC, as well as a cohost of the show's third hour.