Photography by Udo Spreitzenbarth
Whether it’s an uplifting profile piece or a more in the trenches tale from the current never-ending news cycle, Craig Melvin, a friendly face of NBC News’ TODAY, has been making his mark on the broadcasting industry for almost two dedicated decades.
While the world started shutting down in March due to the unprecedented pandemic, Craig was still reporting live from Studio 1A at 30 Rock, without help from the hair, makeup and wardrobe crew. “It was just me, my colleague Hoda Kotb, one camera guy and a few security guys,” explained Melvin. After his in-studio appearances, Craig reports on breaking news from his basement for MSNBC.
From the COVID-19 crisis to the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd and subsequent protests, Craig has been at the forefront of this fast-paced news cycle. He attended Floyd’s funeral in Houston and has even found some silver lining stories amidst a most turbulent time. What has this time of madness looked like in the Melvin household? Well, his sports broadcaster wife, Lindsay, took up another profession – homeschool teacher!
“My son is six and my daughter is three-and-a-half. I go into the city every morning, so before the kids started going back to school, my house pretty much just became mommy school. Not only did my wife take on the role of teacher, but she did it masterfully. She had lesson plans on boards and a joke of the day to get the day started – there was laughing, writing, reading and math.”
Melvin and his family live in the suburbs of Connecticut, where they have come to appreciate their serene surroundings even more. Plus, not even a pandemic can put Craig and his wife’s careers on hold. Lindsay, who got her start in NASCAR, decided to pitch a show to Fox on NASCAR drivers who were also stuck at home so viewers could see what they have been doing during this time. According to her proud hubby, Lindsay was able to develop and pitch the show which was bought in two weeks. “The network had nothing to put on television and watching her get this together was a sight to behold. We are blessed in a myriad of ways. We have rediscovered nature and have been going on a lot of family bike rides. I have really reconnected with my kids in a new way, especially my daughter, as it forced us to spend so much time together. It’s been a mixed blessing. We’ve all been healthy but we know people who have been affected. I’ve been working this whole time so try not to complain. We are fortunate and we have healthy kids back in school. I was reporting at the height of the crisis and I remember seeing the Navy hospital ship come into the harbor and I said to myself, ‘god, what is about to happen?’ With the governor pleading for ventilators, and doctors and nurses talking about wearing trash bags for protection, there was this feeling of life or death being juxtaposed with what you were coming home to everyday. It made me really, really appreciate what I have. It took more of a toll on me emotionally and mentally than I fully appreciated at the time. I’m in a much better place than I was. We went from the pandemic to the George Floyd news in Minneapolis, and the nature of what we do calls for us to bear witness to history so when things happen, we, as journalists, have an obligation and duty to be there. When I went to Minneapolis, I was able to be there on the ground and talk to people and the family of George Floyd and his lawyers. It’s been an interesting time to have conversations like this. We have really lurched from one big event in history to the next.”
He might have a great smile, but these tumultuous times have taken a toll on even this journalist. Though Craig says that he is usually able to develop somewhat of an emotional distance, he recounts a moment on the set of TODAY that has since gone viral. “We were doing a show about teachers who were giving back and how much they were missing their students and vice versa. We came out of the story and I’m not a man of great emotion, but I lost it. It wasn’t so much that particular story, but a culmination of all of the social unrest and doom. I was just sick of it all and it bubbled to the surface and I just wept. It really hit me that this is all so very sad. For journalists especially, there are periods where we’re very busy and drinking from the fire hydrant every day, and today all the stories are just so consequential. We live in a time where there are more than 40 million Americans who are not working who want to work. Normally this would have been the top story, but economics have been overshadowed by health concerns. We have a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 225,000 Americans who were with us just eight months ago – they were colleagues, friends, parents and children.
While social media and staunchly opposing views are contributing to a sometimes false narrative, Craig relies on reality. “We’ve all decided that our world view is the right world view rather than wanting to learn something new by reading or watching something which might broaden your intellectual horizons. I report on facts, not my opinion.”
Craig, who is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, knew he had a nose for the news back in high school when he noticed an advertisement for teens to report on a story of interest to young people. He hopped into his dad’s car and after an impressive audition which consisted of showcasing a story on his favorite teacher, Mike Fanning. Unbeknownst to this budding journalist, they entered his story into an Associated Press competition which he ultimately won, and soon found himself at the awards banquet with his mother and younger brother as well as the station’s news director. “I thought to myself wow; you can make a living from telling stories? What a great gig!”
Though he went on to study government in college, he realized that he really he wanted to go into the news biz. He started working at a local television station at 21 years old and has been in the industry ever since. Aside from reporting breaking news, Craig’s other great love is his wife. The two met at a television station in Washington, D.C., and let’s just say that reporting runs in the family. Lindsay’s father was even executive editor of USA Today.
While posing in front of avant garde pieces in Soho’s chicest space, The Georges Berges Gallery, the longtime lovebirds and sports fans couldn’t help but admire their surroundings and joke about moving to the gallery’s oh-so-chic New York street. They might be celebrating nine years of marriage, but these two seemed more like they were in the honeymoon stage than the two kids later living in the suburbs phase!
With two reporter parents, it might not be long before the Melvin children also make their own television appearances. “Our kids are old enough now to hear and understand things. They know a lot about the pandemic and politics. At this point they can even identify certain newsmakers by sight. In the beginning they couldn’t watch my cable show but now it’s cool again seeing dad on TV so they’re getting back into it a little bit. I guess more information is better than no information.”
While he is a big sports fan, Craig says he’s “probably one of the few guys in America who doesn’t look forward to football season as much” simply because that’s when Lindsay is traveling for FOX NFL. Still, these two always find time for family – and new hobbies. While Craig, who has always been a charity golfer, has been playing more socially distanced golf, Lindsay has taken up tennis and their son is becoming a baseball pro. Whatever life throws at them, they make the most of it.