Dateline’s Keith Morrison on Trail Mix, Jack Lalanne, and Work-Life Balance

Keith Morrison. Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

NBC’s Dateline has been satisfying the nation’s obsession with true crime for 25 seasons now, with correspondent Keith Morrison serving as the familiar face — and voice — of the show for nearly as long. Despite his demanding schedule traveling around the country to cover grisly cases, at 69 years old, the Canadian broadcast journalist looks as youthful as ever. Ahead of Friday’s episode, we spoke to Morrison on how he separates himself from the dark stories he works on and his refreshingly laid-back views on wellness.

How I start my mornings: I always hope to wake up alive, and if I’ve done that … [Laughs.]. My morning routine is so varied — you never know where you’re gonna be — but, when I’m at home, I get a cup of tea for my wife and I and we’ll read the paper and take the dog for a walk.

Wellness, to me, is: I’m not one of those people who frets about wellness a lot. My wife calls me the Buddha, not because I necessarily have a wonderful philosophy about life, just because things don’t bother me a whole lot. I think that probably is as useful a tool as anything else. Everybody gets anxious or worked up sometimes, but I just don’t seem to as much as many people do.

My skin-care and hair-care routine: In a word: nothing. I don’t do anything to it. Sometimes when I brush my hair I have to whack it with something to make sure it doesn’t blow around in the wind.

How I stay healthy on the road: I think luck mostly. I walk as much as I can, I try not to overeat, I follow the advice of the great Jack Lalanne, who I used to do stories about for years. Jack had his “Lalannisms,” as he called them, and they were really not so much about the kind of exercise you should do, they were about diet, they were about nutrition. Those kind of sunk in, and I’m careful about what I eat.

I would add only one thing, something I actually heard Mike Wallace say once. I met him, oh gosh, he was 75 back then … I asked him, “What do you do, you’re on the road all the time, there’s all this crappy food around, how do you stay healthy and keep reasonably fit?” because he looked terrific. He said, “Simple: trail mix.”

How I deal with the stress of my job: You’d think it would affect a person more than it does. I get deeply embedded in these stories. [But] it doesn’t tend to carry over into bedtime: When it’s time to relax, it’s time to relax, move on to something else. It probably has something to do with the fact that for most of my career, I wasn’t a crime reporter — I did all kinds [of] other stuff, so I had many different sorts of interests. When I’m not doing a story about a crime, I’m thinking about something else. I don’t have the same difficulty distancing myself from my work as maybe some people do. When I’m not in it, I’m not in it.

The best wellness advice I’ve received: Jack would practically shout — and it would have to be modified for a world in which you refer to “people” as opposed to men or women — he’d say: “If man made it, don’t eat it.” That’s really good advice, because just about anything that comes in a package has been modified in some way. Something’s been done to it. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not a good thing. Maybe it’s full of sugar, maybe it’s crazy high in sodium — you just don’t know. I try to avoid packaged products when I can and I stick to things that I know haven’t been touched that much along the way. It’s practically impossible to avoid it completely unless you’re spending all your time on a farm, but just to keep it to a minimum.

Dateline’s Keith Morrison on Trail Mix and Work-Life Balance