The Untold Truth Of Craig Melvin – Nicki Swift

A familiar face to NBC viewers for years, Craig Melvin became part of the Today family in 2018. For Melvin, joining Today as the morning’s show’s weekday news anchor was part of a career journey that began in his hometown of Columbia, S.C., when he was still in high school. 

According to The Washington Post, Melvin was a “teen reporter” for Columbia’s NBC affiliate, WIS News 10. His talent emerged early; as WIS News reported, he won an Associated Press award in 1996. After graduating college, Melvin returned to WIS, first as a featured reporter, then anchor. In 2008, he left WIS for a high-profile anchor job in Washington, D.C. Three years later, AdWeek reported on his next big move: to New York City, taking a job with MSNBC that also involved reporting on the NBC network. Once again, Melvin rose through the ranks, eventually becoming MSNBC anchor, then anchor of the weekend edition of Today before being tapped for the show’s flagship weekday edition. 

Viewers have watched Melvin’s rise as it happened, on live television, yet there’s a lot they might not know about him. Keep reading to discover the untold truth of Craig Melvin.

Craig Melvin has an incredibly efficient morning routine

Craig Melvin’s schedule is not for the faint of heart. As he told Parade, his alarm wakes him up each weekday morning at 3:45 a.m. After that, he’s “gotten it down to a bit of a science in that I can get out of the house in 22 minutes.”

A half-hour after awakening, he’s picked up by a driver, typically before 4:15 a.m., for a commute that takes about an hour. Melvin uses that time to prep for the show, “reading scripts and notes” for Today, as well as his MSNBC show. He usually arrives at Today‘s studio in Rockefeller Center by about 5:30. Before going on air, he’ll eat a breakfast he describes as “very particular” and never varies. “I’m a creature of habit. I’m like a 70-year-old man,” Melvin joked. “I have a nonfat yogurt every morning and I add nuts and blueberries.”

That routine also includes coffee — lots of coffee. By 9:30 a.m., Melvin revealed, he’ll have had “three cups of coffee and a double shot of espresso” to fuel him up for the day to come.

He experienced a COVID-19 scare

In mid-March 2020, a Today staffer tested positive for COVID-19. That staffer had been in close contact with Craig Melvin and Al Roker, resulting in both remaining in their homes and missing that day’s broadcast. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, Craig and Al are taking the morning off while we map that colleague’s close contacts,” Today‘s Savannah Guthrie told viewers. Melvin retweeted that video announcement, sharing his own message. “Feeling great this am,” he wrote. “Thinking about our friend and colleague. Thinking about everyone grappling with this right now. I’ll be fine. So will we.”

Weeks later, Melvin’s experience with the world-changing virus became even deeper. As Variety reported, in April, he began hosting Craig Melvin Reports: Coronavirus Pandemic, airing for two weeks in the slot where his MSNBC show normally ran. According to NBC News, Melvin would “safely report with a slim crew from key locations critical to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic starting with the Central Park field hospital on Monday.” For his broadcast, Melvin would be joined remotely each day by a “Doctor on Duty” who could provide “expert insight.”

His mentor Al Roker has a 'man crush' on Craig Melvin

During a July 2020 edition of Today, longtime weather guy Al Roker brought up the topic of mentoring and asked Craig Melvin who his mentor was. “The guy who just talked,” Melvin declared. “Roker’s become my secret mentor — he doesn’t even know he’s my mentor.” According to Melvin, it was many years earlier, “before anybody started paying attention to me at 30 Rock,” that he asked Roker to lunch, with little expectation he’d actually take him. However, Roker agreed.

“I wanted to pick his brain about his production company, the industry, navigating the waters,” Melvin continued. “To be able to do what Al has done for 40 years? It’s a feat.”

Over the years, Roker and Melvin have grown to become close friends. “I’m just going to come right out and say this. I have a man crush on Craig Melvin, and I don’t care who knows it,” wrote Roker in a Melvin-praising piece for Variety. Describing Melvin’s smooth vocal delivery as “the newsman’s version of Lou Rawls,” Roker continued by gushing about “crushing on” Melvin, a.k.a. “one good-looking, sweet piece of man candy.”

Matt Lauer and Megan Kelly's respective scandals advanced his career

Two high-profile NBC scandals rocked the network, but oddly enough, served to fuel Melvin’s rise through the ranks. The first came in the fall of 2017, when veteran Today anchor Matt Lauer was axed after Variety detailed the sexual harassment allegations of numerous women. According to a report in ET, both Melvin and Willie Geist had been angling to replace Lauer; R Online reported Melvin was “devastated” when the gig ultimately went to Hoda Kotb. 

However, another opportunity arose. In August 2018, Melvin stepped away from the Saturday edition of Today, with Page Six speculating it was in order for him to join the weekday Today. As reported by The State, this came to pass less than a week later, when Melvin was bumped up to “weekday anchor” on Today. “The dream has come true,” Melvin said, admitting, “it’s a pinch-myself moment.”

Weeks later, NBC’s high-profile new hire Megyn Kelly was fired over some controversial comments about blackface. The former Fox News personality’s abrupt sacking left an hour-long hole in NBC’s daytime schedule — which led to the creation of Today Third Hour, with Melvin and other Today personalities appearing in the studio of Kelly’s canceled show.

Craig Melvin's interview questions ticked off a former president

Being impeached for lying about an extramarital affair with an intern 20 years earlier is apparently still a bit of a sore point for former US President Bill Clinton. Craig Melvin found that out firsthand when he spoke with America’s 42nd POTUS (alongside author James Patterson) during a Today interview.

Asked by Melvin whether he would have “approached the accusations differently” if the scandal had occurred “with everything that’s going on with the #MeToo movement,” Clinton insisted, “I don’t think it would be an issue.” Clinton’s tone turned testy when Melvin asked if he had ever apologized to his former intern publicly. “I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry… The apology was public,” said Clinton. When Melvin asked if Clinton felt he owed her a private apology, he insisted, “No, I do not.”

The interview stirred up much controversy for Clinton while promoting the book he and Patterson had written. When he and Patterson subsequently appeared on The Late Show, Clinton addressed Melvin’s interview. “It wasn’t my finest hour,” Clinton admitted, adding that when he watched himself on TV, “I was mad at me.”

Craig Melvin's wife is also a broadcast journalist

Craig Melvin married Lindsay Czarniak, an on-air personality for ESPN and former NBC Sports correspondent, in 2011. At the time of their wedding, the couple opened up to The Washington Post about their relationship. “She loves life,” said Melvin of his bride. “She stops. She smells the roses. She picks a few, and she shows them to me — ‘Here, smell these!'” In the years since their wedding, reported Closer Weekly, the couple went on to have two children, son Delano and daughter Sybil. 

Czarniak exited ESPN in 2017 and told The Washington Post that while “sports is still very much [her] love,” she would actually like to cover a broader range of topics as a journalist. In 2019, she joined Fox Sports, focusing on NASCAR along with working as an NFL sideline reporter.

In addition to her journalism career, Czarniak also has an occasional sideline as an actress. According to IMDb, she has two onscreen acting credits under her belt: portraying a character named Mist in the 2000 sci-fi/action movie Aquarius, and a brief cameo as a news anchor in the 2010 horror flick Ghosts Don’t Exist.

Craig Melvin's mom had an 'uncomfortable' conversation with his wife about race

Given that Craig Melvin is Black and his wife Lindsay Czarniak is white, there were some cultural divides they found themselves navigating. As People reported, this led Czarniak to post a three-part interview series on Instagram, including conversations on “uncomfortable” issues surrounding race. 

In one of these interviews, Czarniak spoke with her mother-in-law Betty Jo Melvin, about her reaction when she found out her son was dating a white woman. “I told him that love has no color, that your skin color doesn’t matter, as long as you loved him and he loved you,” she told her Czarniak. 

While Betty Jo Melvin may not have been focused on skin color, she knew that wouldn’t be the case with everyone her sons encountered. As a result, she taught them that whatever they were undertaking, they would “have to compete a little bit harder. They can’t do the same things and get the same results as someone that has the same qualifications that they have if he’s white or someone else. So you teach your children from when they’re younger that, ‘I need you to be more.’ You have to push them hard.”

He's a big believer in Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule

Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book Outliers proposed an intriguing theory: in order to achieve true mastery in a field — whether it’s as a professional athlete, a musician, or, in the case of Craig Melvin, a broadcast journalist — one needs to spend 10,000 hours honing that particular skill. 

While at least one study disagreed with Outliers‘ conclusion, Melvin thinks Gladwell is onto something. “I am a firm believer in the 10,000 Hour Rule (the principle that 10,000 hours of ‘deliberate practice’ are needed to become world-class in any field),” Melvin said in an interview with Serendipity. For Melvin, this meant serving as a journalistic “one-man-band” in his early days as a broadcaster. “I would drive the news truck to locations, run the cable from the truck to the camera, and report. I did it all and that probably helped me in my career more than anything else.”

Whatever he reported on, added Melvin, “I was forced to learn how to speak extemporaneously on live television on a regular basis. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it, and 18 years later I can tell you I still enjoy is just as much.”

He lost his brother to a terrible illness

The December 16, 2020 edition of Today was an emotional one for Craig Melvin, when he paid tribute to his older brother, Lawrence Meadows, who lost his battle with stage 4 colon cancer. Melvin first revealed his brother’s death in an Instagram post. “Colon cancer robbed him and us of so much,” wrote Melvin of his brother. “He was diagnosed at 39. He died Wednesday at 43. He spent a fair amount of time over the past few years raising awareness about the disease. We’ll be keeping up that fight.”

On Today, Melvin admitted that his grief was tempered with relief. “He was suffering at the end, and when you have someone you love and that you cherish, you don’t want them to suffer anymore,” Melvin said.

He also shared his thanks to “the friends, the strangers, who sent cards, texts, and prayers especially,” and offered further gratitude to his co-stars on Today, “our little TV family,” as he referred to them. According to Melvin, “you guys really held us up over the last few weeks and it was a kindness and a generosity that we will never forget.”

He explained how some strangers' well-intentioned comments were kind of racist

During the summer of 2020, when protests erupted around the globe in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Craig Melvin hosted a timely NBC News “virtual conversation” titled Growing Up Black. As a Black man married to a white woman and father of two biracial children, Melvin brought a unique perspective. 

As Today reported, Melvin explained why people commenting about his “well-behaved” children tended to irk him. “They either look Black or they’re racially ambiguous and I’m always struck when someone, a stranger will say to me, ‘Oh your kids are so well-behaved,'” Melvin said of his children, who at the time were aged three and six. “And you know that they probably wouldn’t say that if there were two white kids sitting there who are the same age. It’s like, did you not expect my kids to be well-behaved?”

Melvin had previously opened up on Today about raising biracial children. As Melvin said, he and his wife Lindsay Czarniak “have always lived lives that we like to think we don’t see race first … But since we’ve been married, we have become more aware of it than we were before we were married. Since we’ve had children we’ve become even more aware of it, and we’ve talked about how do you rear biracial children in an environment like this?”

The fitness routine that keeps him in shape

While Today viewers see Craig Melvin wearing a suit and tie when he’s on the air, he apparently has a buff bod concealed beneath. Maintaining that fit and healthy physique, he told City Lifestyle, is something he insists on carving out time for. His motivation for staying in shape, he joked, was because “I honestly just don’t want to be morbidly obese.”

Apparently, he was only half-joking, admitting there’s a certain degree of vanity in his quest to stay fit. “If I didn’t do what I do for a living, I’d probably be 300 pounds,” he said. “My primary motivation for hitting the gym is that I don’t want to look fat on TV.”

According to Melvin, his philosophy is “old school when it comes to the gym,” relying on a regimen that includes cardio — running outdoors in the summer months — and lifting weights. “In the winter, I’m in the gym. I’m an elliptical guy and I need 20 minutes of cardio or I don’t feel like I’ve worked out sufficiently,” he explained, adding that when it comes to weight training he swears by “low weight, high reps.”

He damaged his eyes because he was an 'idiot'

Another thing that Today viewers may not know about Craig Melvin is that he needs glasses, and wears contact lenses to correct his vision. However, thanks to some extreme inattentiveness, those same lenses that assist his sight nearly caused him to lose it.

“I was one of those people that did not listen to their ophthalmologist when they would tell them repeatedly that they should not sleep in their contact lenses,” Melvin admitted in an interview with People. “I never had any problems when I did, so if my eyes got dry I would just use rewetting drops. I just thought that maybe my eyes were different.”

When he began to notice persistent redness in his eyes, Melvin finally heeded his coworkers’ advice and visited a doctor — who told him his “filthy habit” of sleeping with his contacts had resulted in developing a corneal ulcer. Melvin’s diagnosis led him, for the first time ever, to wear glasses on the air, and he offered advice for viewers who wore contact lenses: “Don’t be an idiot like me.”

Joining Today bumped up Craig Melvin's salary

Working on one of America’s most-watched morning shows pays a lot more than Craig Melvin earned when he first launched his broadcasting career at WIS News 10 in his hometown of Columbia, S.C. Once he landed at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Center headquarters in the Big Apple, it’s safe to say that the size of his paychecks improved significantly — and became even bigger when he joined Today. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Melvin has a net worth of $6 million and reportedly earns $3 million per year as Today‘s weekday news anchor. 

In any case, Melvin and his wife Lindsay Czarniak can afford to live in a “sprawling suburban home” in Connecticut, with five bedrooms and six bathrooms (via People). According to the magazine, Melvin’s “domain” is the basement, which boasts such luxurious features as a media room, home gym, and wine cellar, in addition to a “full bar.” 

With two young children in the house, Melvin joked, the basement is also “the only place in the house where you can occasionally find 45 seconds of almost quiet.”

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