Remember the ‘Balloon Boy’ saga?
For most Americans, the story that captivated cable news viewers in October of 2009 has faded from memory. But not for NBC News correspondent Lee Cowan and “Today” show associate producer Molly Palmer, both of whom covered the infamous escapade.
“That’s kind of when I think we started to really notice each other,” Palmer tells TVNewser.
The two – both Los Angeles-based – had worked together previously, but got to know one another better during days in Colorado covering the Heene family. After dating for nearly two years, the couple recently got engaged during a vacation in Kauai.
“I”m just excited,” Palmer says. “I’m just so happy. I love Lee so much, and I am just so sure that I want to be with him forever that it feels right and like an exciting next step. I’m just ready to be a family with him.”
Family is important to Palmer and Cowan, who say both sets of their parents are delighted at the news. That includes Cowan’s future father-in-law, former NBC White House correspondent and Today news anchor John Palmer.
“Lee and Molly are a great couple and very much in love,” John Palmer tells TVNewser. “My wife Nancy and I are thrilled for them. We are not losing a daughter, just adding another journalist to the family and a fine one he is!”
It’s high praise from a man Cowan has long admired. “I gotta tell you,” Cowan recalls to TVNewser, “I’ve never been so nervous meeting him the first time. I mean, it’s one thing to introduce yourself to your girlfriend’s father, but it’s quite another when it’s John Palmer!”
“I remember vividly heading off to a journalism class at the University of Washington,” Cowan continues, “and being stopped in my tracks by the news of the Challenger explosion [in 1986], courtesy of John Palmer. I knew watching him, that’s what I wanted to do, and suddenly decades later, I was having breakfast in his kitchen!”
And now, the happy couple and their families are planning a wedding. They’re thinking about a spring celebration in the bride’s hometown of Washington, DC. Friends already are teasing Molly and Lee about a theme for the nuptials.
“Many jokes fly around about that,” says Molly Palmer. “Like ‘Balloon motif at the wedding?’ I don’t think so!”
One thing, though, is for sure: it was breaking news that brought the couple together, at the same network that Molly’s father called home for so long. “NBC, I feel like, is a family in and of itself,” she says. “I think it’s a unique environment because [staffers are] together so often and sometimes in such strange circumstances – we’re all very close.”
And when two journalists marry, one benefit is that each understands the unique demands of a TV news career. “I think there’s a certain sense of understanding that’s really helpful to have,” Palmer reflects. “When one of us gets called away on a story, it’s really nice that [the other person] ‘gets it.'”
(Photo courtesy of Molly Palmer)