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Today, Dammit!

The first host of America's morning show hailed from U. City -- read all about it!

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Early on a January morning in 1952, a bespectacled, decidedly untelegenic University City High grad named Dave Garroway came flickering into the nation's living rooms. For many still-slumbering Americans, it was way too early to invite an intruder into the house. But the genial Garroway promised that if folks would only beam him in on a daily basis, he would "put them in touch with the world, and not get stuffy about it."

More than a half-century later, Today is still beaming -- some might say droning -- its way into America's homes. Its ever-evolving formula of a modicum of news wrapped in a mantle of happy talk has had a profound impact on American culture. The ubiquitous show entertains some and bores others, but no one could accuse it of being stuffy.

Eric Mink, former TV editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, former TV writer for the New York Daily News and current P-D editorial-page editor, is the author of This is Today: A Window on Our Times. His tome offers the promise of substance. After all, back when Mink was chronicling St. Louis media, he showed no qualms about taking on the imperious likes of CBS Radio vice president and KMOX Radio general manager Robert Hyland, whom he affectionately described in his columns as "Boss Hyland." One hopes he'll bring that same irreverent approach to morning talk.

But even if he doesn't, this handsome coffee-table book also includes a two-hour DVD of Today excerpts. Did you miss Matt Lau-er's probing, in-depth interview with Ma-donna? You can pick it up here.

When Mink discusses This is Today, you'll have an ideal opportunity to check out the rumor that he can list 51 years of Today anchors -- both alphabetically and chronologically -- in under 24 seconds. But be warned: Said listing does not include such ancillary panelist regulars as Joe Garagiola and chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs.

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