Desperately Seeking Hoda and Kathie Lee

The Today Show will visit Brandeis on Thursday as part of a school-spirit contest. The winning college will host the show from its campus, so vote today!

It all started last Tuesday when Rachel Nelson ‘13, chair of Student Events, heard about the Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb College Challenge. The Today Show duo, who host the chatty and often loopy fourth-hour of the popular morning show, were looking for colleges to show off their school spirit and compete for a chance to host the program and its hosts next month.

That was enough to energize Nelson, who quickly tracked down her suitemate Reed Zukerman ‘13 to get the effort started.

“Reed and I are always talking about Kathie Lee and Hoda,” says Nelson. “Over the summer we went to NYC to see them. We lined up at the studio at 3 a.m.”

Thanks to their efforts – and the cooperation of many others – Brandeis has emerged as one of six finalists in this week’s contest. The Today Show is conducting an online vote all week and the school that receives the most votes will host Kathie Lee and Hoda and their Today Show crew for a one-hour campus broadcast in early October.

To promote the contest and Brandeis, the Today Show will have a film crew on campus this Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They will be taping a segment for the shot outside Shapiro Campus Center if the weather cooperates, or inside in the event of rain. The producers say there are looking for an exuberant display of school spirit that captures what makes each of the six schools unique.

Students are asked to arrive at 11 a.m. wearing their Brandeis shirts or sweatshirts. For anyone in need of gear, the campus bookstore will offer all Brandeis apparel at 20 percent off on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be free food and student DJs Johnny and JV will provide the music. On Wednesday night and Thursday morning there will be supplies in Shapiro Campus Center to make signs and posters.

To enter the contest, Nelson and Zukerman took to Twitter and followed the rules: submit a statement in 140 characters or less that includes your college’s name and a description of why your college has the most school spirit and deserves a visit from the Today Show. Include the hashtag #KLGandHodaU. Photos or videos may be included with your tweet.

Nelson and Zuckerman then sat down to brainstorm how to beat all of the much larger schools that already had started tweeting. The two students made flyers and hung them around campus then decided to take matters even more into their own hands.
“We thought the best way to get as many people involved would be an ambush-style interview and just focus on what makes Brandeis great,” says Nelson.

Last Thursday they began filming and co-anchoring a five-minute Brandeis video, complete with appearances by President Fred Lawrence, Provost Steve Goldstein and Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel.

“How many other universities had the SVP, Provost and President on their side?” Nelson wonders.

Their final product captured the interested of Today Show staffers and went a long way to securing Brandeis a place in the finals despite competition from many larger schools.

“Reed and I were monitoring the hashtag #KLGandHodaU pretty obsessively, “ says Nelson. “Brandeis was constantly appearing but so were a lot of other universities.”

In addition to Brandeis, the other colleges competing to host the show are Ohio State University, the University of Tennessee, Syracuse University, Creighton University and the University of South Florida.

The mission now: Get as many votes for Brandeis as possible.

Why does Nelson feel that a Brandeis win would be important?

“The fact that we are even in the top six amongst big-name schools is a huge step for Brandeis and speaks volumes about our community,” says Nelson. “We are an amazing university with so much to offer yet people don’t always realize this until they actually step on to our campus. I love Brandeis and I think everybody, or at least everybody who watches the fourth hour of the Today Show, should know just how great we really are. There is such a warm feeling surrounding the entire Brandeis community and I think Kathie Lee and Hoda should get to experience it too.”


Categories: Student Life

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage