The day I surprised my dad on national television.

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A past attache in the Humphrey Seminar, Frankie McLister is a Student Worker for Cronkite Global Initiatives.

All you need to do is watch the video to learn about my dad as a person. It was October 2016, my freshman year at Cronkite when my sister, Kelly, called me as I was in the dining hall with the good news. “Dad is going to be surprised at our front doorstep by Al Roker and Bobby Flay live on the TODAY Show next month! You HAVE to come home!!!”. Little did I know that my sister wrote into the TODAY Show telling them all about my dad and his deep fried turkey recipe.

It was a lot of preparation to pull off the surprise but man, did it work. My sisters and I were communicating back and forth with the Producers everyday during the weeks leading up to the surprise. They had questions such as, “What does your house look like?”, “How old are each of you?”, “Can you record videos explaining what your dad does?”. So I spent some time with a friend at the Cronkite School making my video and sending it to 30 Rock. Via email, of course. My mom fortunately helped me by helping me get a ticket home, and the rest was history. NBC News put me and my sister Caitlin, who lives in Philadelphia, up in a hotel with Al, Bobby and the crew. I remember arriving at that hotel in the evening and seeing the massive “TODAY’S Turkey Trot” bus outside of the Residence Inn Marriott. My sister and I looked at it and gasped. The morning after, after meeting Bobby and his makeup artist in the lobby, Caitlin and I drove to our home with Bobby and his driver in the car behind us. It’s game time. I quickly ran through my yard to hide in my detached garage with Bobby Flay and my sister Caitlin. After 45-mins, the crew told us we were live. I could hear the excitement coming from a crewmembers’ headset. The surprise just occured. Now? Al was walking my dad over to the garage I was in. We’re live. The entire world is watching. The garage started to open and after butterflies quickly rushed through my stomach, I was able to walk out and surprise my dad on national television. With Bobby Flay, of course. My dad’s reaction? Priceless. My entire town showed up. My school Principal, friends and family from all over and my entire floor at ASU’s Taylor Place Residence Hall even watched it from Arizona. Southwest Airlines found out I flew home with them and posted me on their Facebook account! The Jimmy Kimmel Show picked up my dad’s reaction and aired it! My sister’s university saw it and posted it! Savannah Guthrie even said “I’m in love with Tom” on air. I could go on and on. 

It was a day to remember and my mom still says it was a gift that keeps on giving! PTS (Post TODAY Show), my dad now allows people to drop off their turkeys for him to fry. This is in addition to his 6 that he already deep fries for our family Thanksgiving gathering. The other day I spoke with him and he was frying 30. I am not even joking here. All I have to say is that I can always count on one making its way to Phoenix. And just last night I received a package from Middletown, Maryland on my doorstep.