Today” has the longest and most recognized heritage in morning television. Everyone remembers how broadcast legends, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, and others became famous and beloved on “Today’s” familiar set, and the logo of a rising sun that remains a hallmark of the broadcast. Names, faces, and news certainly change with the times, but many of the people who work behind the cameras carry on for decades, doing their best to make the morning regulars shine.

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Now, faithful viewers, see Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Dylan Dreyer, Al Roker, and Carson Daly around the table in the morning for the initial “Today” two-hour block. Willie Geist, Sheinelle Jones, Jenna Bush Hager, Craig Melvin, Kathie Lee Gifford, come to the helm for the final hours, and special duties. Professionals like the senior stage manager, Mark Traub, stay through all the transitions, making sure that whoever is on cue and giving the needed information for the day does the very best job possible.

Past and present Today favorites gave heartfelt toasts to a beloved stage manager. [Image source:TODAY-YouTube]
Past and present Today favorites gave heartfelt toasts to a beloved stage manager. [Image source:TODAY-YouTube]

On the morning of January 4, Mark Traub was ready to go at 4:30 AM, as always. The anchors, cast, and crew of “Today,” however, had very special messages, memories, a huge cake, and a toast for Mark on his last day in the studio, and everything spoke volumes about how this unseen, dedicated “star” of nearly 40 years mattered to the history, and so many hearts, involved with the show.

Unvarnished truth

Hoda Kotb has often been willing to show the world what she looks like upon arrival at NBC studios before the team of behind-the-scenes artists works its wonders with Keratin for her hair and creating the beautiful face to surround her famous smile.

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This morning, the anchor called Mark Traub “beloved” and reminded the long-time crewmember that wherever he is in the world from now on, whether in bed or on a beach, he is loved and remembered.

Jenna Bush Hager also went without a smidge of makeup for her message on video to Mark, and cameras tracked down Craig Melvin with his family on vacation to gather warm words of gratitude to the stage manager, including a remembrance from the news anchor’s son, sending love to “Marky.”

Tom Brokaw, in his familiar, perfectly gruff tone, lamented that he would never know “where to sit” without Mark Traub’s steadfast direction, while Katie Couric was simply thankful for 15 of Traub’s 35+ years being shared with her.

Many NBC fans and guests alike have wondered about “the guy with the laugh” that no one can forget. That effervescent spirit will be irreplaceable on the morning broadcast, but in showbiz fashion, the show will go on.

Traub told all his co-workers how honored he was to be part of “something that is so vital to this country,” having traveled with the production across endless points on the globe.

He added that he knew where he wanted to work ever since he was five years old, and his dream came true at 21.

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No more early calls

Sheinelle Jones reiterated that “sleep is overrated” in her video salute, and all the anchors seemed at a loss for how they will find information when the man “who knows everything about everything” leaves, as Dylan Dreyer put it. “I won't be nearly as funny as I think I am without you,” insisted Al Roker, as a montage of photos scrolled.

Dolly Parton has earned a reputation for treating every person she meets with gracious respect, whether CEO, celebrity, or janitor.

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Mark Traub has left a tremendous imprint of “positivity” on the “Today” show history, as so many commented throughout his sendoff, proving that any person who does a job well and with absolute commitment becomes a star within the lives around him. Today was his time to feel the respect being reciprocated.

Al Roker calculated that Mark had responded to more than 9300 early wake-up calls, and that’s probably a low count. Next Monday will find the stage manager in bed, and Al learning to use Google. There were no tears in this “Today” farewell—only a toast of appreciation.

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