CBS Sunday Morning Correspondent and American journalist Maurice Alberto, most famously known as Mo Rocca, will return to his hometown for a third run at hosting the National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 4. The humorist, best known for his off-beat news commentary, is urging people to look up from their smartphones this year and dedicate their full attention to an inspiring night filled with remarkable inductees whose inventions will blow you away.
This is your third year hosting the NIHF Induction Ceremony, how is this specific honor particularly special to you? Mo Rocca: I work in news so I interview plenty of “newsmakers” – actors, writers and politicians, some of them truly remarkable. But the inductees to the NIHF are men and women who have truly changed the way we live. (One of this year’s inductees invented a substance used both to slow the loss of blood during an emergency and to thicken ice cream. How cool is that?) I stand in awe of them.
How did you get involved with the National Inventors Hall of Fame? MR: I don’t know why they approached me but I’m certainly glad they did. Perhaps it’s my charm. Perhaps it’s my good looks. Perhaps it’s that I host a Saturday morning series about innovation (The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation). Hmmm. You know, it’s probably my good looks.
What do you hope guests will take away from the evening? MR: I hope the attendees will look up from their smartphones and realize that they wouldn’t have smartphones without the inductees to the NIHF. (And yes, you learn at this event about the interconnectedness of so many great inventions. More than a few great minds go into innovating and continually improving many of the technologies we enjoy today.)
Of all the projects, you're involved in currently, what are you the most eager about? MR: I love being a correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning. I look forward to doing more history pieces. (I especially like reporting about bad forgotten presidents like James Buchanan and Millard Fillmore.) The lessons of the past can be a steadying force during a time of great uncertainty. I know that last sentiment sounds stodgy but I come by it honestly: I’m in my late 40s and getting stodgier every day.
How does it feel to be back in your hometown for this occasion? What do you most look forward to? MR: My mother just sold the house I grew up in and moved up to New York City to be closer to my brother and me, so this will be the first time I’ve been in DC as a “visitor.” I think it’s going to feel a little weird and I’ll probably be a little misty about it all.
National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW; invent.org