Spotlighting Alpena

ALPENA – The Today Show on NBC is one of the most popular programs on the air during the day and thanks to an act of generosity a local woman, as well as her family’s business in Alpena were mentioned during a segment during Monday’s show.

Kris Conger has been a fan of the show and typically watches it while working at The Black Sheep in the time leading up to the lunch rush. After receiving some personalized wine glasses and forming a wine club in town, Conger decided to send a pair of glasses to the hosts of the show along with a letter with information about the wine club and Alpena.

On Friday NBC received the glassware and sure enough on Monday morning the two ladies were using them. Conger said she sent the glasses out as a gift and to maybe get a little publicity for Alpena, but doubted they would make the air because of the large amount of correspondence the show receives. Conger said by the time she got to work Monday and prepared the restaurant for the day, she had missed the segment on TV.

She said it didn’t take long before she found out however as word of the airing traveled fast via Facebook and cell phones. She said she was shocked to learn Kathie LeeGifford and Hoda Kotb had used the glasses while on the air, but thrilled Alpena, The Black Sheep and even the wine club were talked about in front of such a large audience.

“My husband called and told me it was on the Today Show, and then a friend from Clarkston and a lot of people had seen it and it was all over Facebook,” Conger said. “I freaked out when I found out and even cried a little because I was so excited. Finally my daughter brought the laptop and I was able to see it on the Today Show’s website.”

During the show one of the hosts said the glasses were made by Conger, but actually they were made by Alpena’s Kim Johnson. Conger said she asked Johnson to make the custom glasses, which feature charicatures of the show’s stars, and then when they were complete she mailed them. She said she has already received calls from people from Washington and other places wanting to purchase some of the glasses.

Mary Beth Stutzman, director of the Alpena Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said there is a chance Alpena as a community could benefit from Conger’s gifts to Gifford and Kotb. She said now people who have seen the segment may want to learn more about Alpena or The Black Sheep and decide to visit.

“It really is an excellent opportunity for everyone in Alpena and I really applaud The Black Sheep for doing this,” Stutzman said. “People who have seen the show may now ask themselves where Alpena is, and I’m sure for no other reason but personal curiosity may have Googled Alpena just to see where we were and what we’re all about. You never know when that will spark some interest.”

Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Executive DirectorJackie Krawczak said people will travel to visit a place they had heard about on television or take recommendations from the celebrities. She said it could result in a few extra visitors to Alpena in the future.

“People will go somewhere they had seen or heard about on TV. People on these types of shows like Kathie Lee, Hoda and Oprah have lists of places to visit and people will go down the list and check them off,” Krawczak said. “The biggest thing is that people will look up Alpena for the Black Sheep and be able to see all of the other cool things we have to offer.”

Conger said she doesn’t have any plans to send the glasses to any of the other television personalities even though her daughter said she should send a glass and a letter to Ellen DeGeneres.

“I think this might be it for a while,” Conger said. “Then again you never know what else I will come up with.”

For those interested in purchasing one of the wine glasses which were shown on the Today Show people should contact Kim Johnson at

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at