Retired Illinois State employee and three-time alum Dr. Sally Pyne ’78, M.S. ’87, Ph.D. ’99, will make her national television debut Friday morning on Today With Hoda & Jenna as one of the contestants for a round of the Weakest Link hosted by fellow Redbird Jane Lynch ’82.

The segment is scheduled to air on the talk show between 10 and 11 a.m. October 9 on NBC. Everyone except for the show’s hosts, Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, appeared remotely during the taping Thursday morning.

“It was pretty cool,” said Pyne, who lives in Normal. “I thought it went well. I was kind of nervous.”

Pyne wouldn’t reveal details about what happened during the recording due to a nondisclosure agreement.

“I cannot tell you anything about the show, but you can watch,” Pyne said.

Dr. Sally Pyne headshot

Dr. Sally Pyne

Pyne did say it was great to interact with Lynch and that they do mention their Redbird connection during the show. Pyne had met Lynch previously when the latter returned to campus for Founders Day in 2017 to receive an honorary doctorate.

“She’s just amazing,” Pyne said.

Pyne almost missed this opportunity. She received a call from a New York phone number on Monday and didn’t pick up, thinking it was a robocaller. When she listened back to the voicemail, she realized it was from a Hoda & Jenna producer and called her back.

The producer didn’t know about the ISU connection until Pyne mentioned it. She thinks she was chosen because she has regularly answered the show’s surveys and interacted with its social media accounts. She also watches the show every day.

“I’m a huge fan of the Hoda & Jenna show.”

Pyne said Lynch was very friendly but does adopt kind of a mean persona as host of the Weakest Link.

Lynch is a School of Theatre and Dance alum and longtime film and TV star. She began hosting the Weakest Link last month on NBC. The game show has contestants work together by answering trivia questions and then has them vote off the “weakest link” at the end of each round. The show airs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Central time.

Pyne worked for over 20 years at Illinois State, in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and in other units across campus, mostly in academic advising. She said it was great to focus on something fun for a change considering the ongoing pandemic. “Be open to fun stuff in your life. It’s weird times we live in.”