Notice anything different about morning television lately? We have. Since last fall, kayakers sporting unruly hair, button-down guide shirts and well-used river sandals have been popping up on morning talk shows like ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today. Ben Stookesberry and Pedro Oliva started the madness after Pedro's folly over a 127-foot waterfall on Brazil's Rio Sacre. Then Bradt topped all comers with his spot on Good Morning America, going through a series of animated stroke demonstrations. Fox News' combative commentator Bill O'Reilly ran footage of his 186-foot Palouse plunge and pronounced Bradt a "patriot." Then little-known Oregon boater Luke Spencer stopped in with Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer as Today took another stab at the waterfall hucking set. Today producer Meredith Phillips Reis declined to comment on the dirtbag infiltration, but we smell something funny. —JC
After a taped interview with Cody Howard in which the Huckin Huge videographer said (rather tactfully, we think) that Oliva's head-first landing from 127 feet "wasn't ideal," the Brazilian responded that landing upside down was the preferred Plan B—reasoning that he would shoot straight out of his boat rather than crushing his spine by landing flat. Question Ann Curry should have asked: "Is that worse than snapping your neck?"
When Bradt demonstrated to Diane Sawyer the intricacies of the Oregon Tuck using a rec boat on the GMA set, he detected a special vibe from the veteran newswoman: "She was giving me the eye for sure." With the host oohing and aahing at his run of Palouse Falls, Bradt showed his manliness by downplaying the injuries. "I just got a sprained wrist at the bottom. Not even broken. Happy days. Happy days." Question Sawyer should have asked: "Do you have time for a safety meeting after the show?"
In late October, the Jheri-curled Spencer showed up seemingly out of nowhere on Today, for the show's second whitewater spot in as many months, hinting that maybe this badass kayaker thing is a ratings booster. Spencer was among a half-dozen bros who made the first descent of Washington's Outlet Falls last winter. Props to Vieira, who asked the question now on the mind of everyone in TV-land: "How high do you think you can push this?" Question Vieira should have asked: How high did you push that free bar tab last night?