Time certainly tends to pass quickly…it is amazing I am reaching the end of 25 years in television in north-central Wisconsin! It is somewhat unusual for a person to not only spend their entire media career in one market, but also to have worked at more than one station within that market.
I will always be thankful for the 7 ½ years I worked at WAOW , and the 17 ½ years at WSAW.
My journey to this point has certainly been interesting, with many twists and turns along the way.
My interest in meteorology developed when I was growing up in southwestern Michigan. There the four seasons are distinct, ranging from squall-lines rumbling across Lake Michigan, to intense lake-effect snow showers. I distinctly remember a Derecho event early one July morning when the long-lived squall line of storms (which organized in the northern Plains and ended at the Appalachians) blew down many of the larger trees in the area. One of the most memorable lake-effect snow events was an overnight snowfall of 18 inches; there was no wind, the squall stalled overhead and the snow fell continuously for several hours. My interest in the weather was also fueled by the television weather personalities in Chicago, including John Coleman, Harry Volkman, and Tom Skilling.
After high school I enrolled at the University of Michigan to pursue the study of meteorology. Although my grades were good, the high academic demands were very stressful, and lacking self confidence I left the school after two years. Changing direction, I decided to also change majors and enrolled at Michigan State University where I studied Horticulture and Landscape Design. After graduation I moved to Dayton, Ohio and had a 10-year career as a Landscape Designer. During that time I met my wife, Debbie, at a singles group at church. We married and continued living in Dayton. I enjoyed my job, but after a while became dissatisfied, realizing that what I really wanted to be doing was studying the weather. Through a twist of fate one of my design clients was a geography/climatology professor at Wright State University, who encouraged me to think about getting back into meteorology. With Debbie’s support, I decided to try the career again, eventually enrolling in the graduate program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
By the time I enrolled at UW-Madison I was in my 30s, and at times the thought of getting through graduate school and starting a new career was rather daunting. With Debbie’s encouragement and other help I made it through.
Although this was a different career path than most in graduate school, I always knew what I wanted to do…be a weatherman on TV! I benefitted from becoming involved in the Journalism School, and through another twist of fate came to know Emeritus Professor and Wausau native Jim Hoyt, who provided tutoring and helped me plan a strategy for getting started in the TV business. I gained some on-air experience from television production classes in the Journalism School, as well as through an internship at WTMJ in Milwaukee.
I graduated in December 2016 with no job. Since Debbie and I wanted to remain in the Midwest to be close to our parents in Michigan and Indiana, I began a process of sending-out my resume and demo tapes in the region followed by personal visits to the stations I had contacted. One visit was to a station in Duluth, during which I was told (by the station manager) that he couldn’t foresee any success for me in the television business. But I persisted in the process, and was granted an interview at WSAW. Eventually I was offered the job as Chief Meteorologist. I remember Debbie dropping the phone when I called her after leaving the station with the offer.
So in February 1997 my weatherman career began. I certainly appreciated and enjoyed the years at WSAW. There were many wonderful colleagues there. My experience with Howard Gernetzke was brief – only for a year – but I learned a lot from him about style and class in broadcasting. I am especially pleased with the work done in educating people of all ages and especially students through the numerous school visits and lectures, culminating in a State of Wisconsin Education Award for Achievements in Distance Learning (in cooperation with Nicolet College). Debbie and I enjoyed hosting the numerous Holiday Vacation trips in the U.S. and abroad, which allowed us to meet and spend time with many wonderful residents from the area. I am grateful for the recognition from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association for the Best Weathercast and Newscast Awards I received.
Through another twist of fate (when it was time to move on from WSAW), things fell into place to allow me to join WAOW. Having the chance to work in the same weather office with Justin Loew and Tony Schumacher was an incredible opportunity!
Which leads us to now.
It is a good time to stop. After all the years as a forecaster I don’t have much hair left to pull out! It is becoming more difficult to keep up with the rigors of the job as a meteorologist in the media. And a bout with prostate cancer and surgery this year has taken a toll on my energy.
Looking ahead, I am hopeful to be able to do the things I most enjoy: church work, tennis, fishing, music, travel, yard duties, and spending time with friends and family.
There are many people I want to thank. First and foremost is my wife, who’s encouragement, faith, and endurance through the years changed my life. I will be forever indebted to Scott Chorski and (the late) Glen Moberg, who took a chance in hiring an older but inexperienced candidate at WSAW. To those at WAOW: Brad Heinkel and John Laughrin who diligently worked to bring me over; to Station Manager Curtis Miles who is a good man and treats his employees with dignity and respect; to Justin Loew who leads the weather office with integrity, drive and enthusiasm; to News Director Courtney Terlecki who has shown great patience with me the past few months; and to all the wonderful colleagues who’s vigor and enthusiasm have kept me going.
And sincere thanks to you for watching my weather presentations through the years. It has been a pleasure and privilege to live and work in this area!
Of course, nothing in my life and career would have been possible without the love of God in Christ Jesus, whose mercy, grace, and guidance are never ending.