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NBC News Roots Led to Star Turn at RNC

Sep 3, 2008  •  Post A Comment

How do you get to the center stage of the Republican National Convention to sing the National Anthem for a nationwide audience?
Phil Alongi II
First you tag along, from age 5, at Democratic and Republican conventions covered by your network news producer father.
And, of course, you practice, practice, practice after you reset your career course to opera three years into your journalism major.
If you were watching early-evening convention coverage live, it didn’t matter where you were watching it, you saw tenor Phil Alongi II’s a cappella rendition of the National Anthem Tuesday night at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Minn.
Big-hearted cable news and commercial-free competitors all carried the moment, which ended with Alongi, 29, smiling to his “terrified” father, Phil Alongi, executive producer of NBC news specials, standing on the convention floor with NBC News colleagues in a position where he could see his son perform without distracting him.
For the NBC newsies, young Phil and his younger brother Michael, 26, are members of the extended family. Both have been attending conventions with their dad since 1984, eventually growing into actual working gigs at the network. Phil was once a “Today” researcher and Mike’s resume includes time spent with NBC News IT crew (he was once assigned to Katie Couric).
No, the younger Alongi is not a Republican. He’s an independent. He attended the Democratic convention last week in Denver because he loves politics, and he wasn’t asked any questions about his voting record or political affiliation when he was asked by the Republicans to sing, his father said Wednesday in a phone call from St. Paul.
Indeed, in an interview with the Newark Star-Ledger at the convention the young Alongi questioned the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.
He had come to party officials’ attention first through Rachel Card, daughter of Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card, when he sang two numbers on NBC’s “Today” show last December and again when he sang in June at the funeral mass and memorial for Tim Russert, a man the two Alongi sons had come to know well over the years.
By Wednesday, the tenor who is on the artistic roster of the Lyric Orchestra in Fort Lauderdale, learned that the Miami Heat is interested in booking him for one of its basketball games. No word from anyone with the Yankees, who are playing their last season in old Yankee Stadium, where he still dreams of singing.
His next important performance, however, will be at his brother’s wedding Sept. 12.
“These are all good things in life,” said the men’s father, who has been juggling his parental responsibilities in wedding plans along with the conventions.
The senior Alongi had received many congratulatory e-mails from former colleagues and counterparts at other networks.
“It was really very sweet,” said the executive producer, who explained why his eldest was named Philip II, not Philip Jr.
“My wife and I, when he was born, always knew we were going to have a 6-4, 240-pound boy. As you know Italians will be, [I said] ‘I don’t want this kid walking around with the moniker Junior the rest of his life.’ That’s why it says ‘the second.’”

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