Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Best Weatherman in the Twin Cities

Got fired. Greg Laden tells the story:
The story goes like this: Paul Douglas was a back-room meteorologist for a local Twin Cities news show. He was one of the guys in the back that actually predicted the weather, which was then delivered by the pretty boy/girl weathermen/women on camera. One day the main weatherman was out of town, and the other weatherman was sick (details of the story vary), and nobody realized that they had no one to report the weather until the very last second. So they threw Paul a jacket and tie and said "Get out there, boy, you're the weatherman today."


So Paul went in front of the camera and gave the weather, and charmed the audience and the reporters and the producers, and became, overnight, the best weatherman in television.

Paul went on to continue reporting the weather. He was always honest, accurate in his descriptions, and did the best job anyone could do given the vagaries of that business. Notably, Paul understood climate change and was one of the first TV weathermen to refuse to parrot the corporate global-warming denialism. Paul knew global warming was real.

In the meantime, Paul started up a weather data company that was very successful, and was eventually purchased by Garmin for over 40 million dollars, making him the "richest weatherman in the world" according to reports at that time.

I suspect Paul was very much in demand as a weatherman. He did go to Chicago for a while, but preferred living in the Twin Cities, so he returned. I imagine his salary was quite high. This may be why he was fired yesterday.

WCCO, the broadcast company that Paul worked for, has been laying off people, and plans to continue to do so, as they are being beaten out in the Twin Cities market by the local Fox News show. That is really a shame in so many ways... Yesterday, Paul Douglas was on the list of people to let go. Reports are that he is sad to have had this happen while he was on vacation, denying him the opportunity to say goodbye to his loyal audience. I imagine that was a corporate strategy to limit the public outcry over losing the best guy on local TV news (including all the reporters and weathermen/women).

I'm not worried about Paul. He is obviously not in need of a job. But his loss to local broadcasting is sad and palpable.

Greg omits one important fact about Douglas: he was a graduate of the best university in the country, Penn State. It was a classless act to fire him while he was on vacation. WCCO news was once the banner news station in the twin cities. But they are falling fast.

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