47 Years on TV (and Radio) in West Michigan

Bill's Blog

Today (Fri. Nov. 5) is the 47th anniversary of my first TV weather segment in West Michigan. I arrived in G.R. the weekend of the 2nd-3rd. My first day on the job was Nov. 4 and my first day on TV was Nov. 5. I did my first radio segment on Nov. 6. However, my actual start in broadcasting was in 1968, when at age 16, I did fill -in sports on WNTH radio in Winnetka, Illnois.

My first actual TV show was a closed circuit weather segment that was broadcast from the Boy Scout Show in the New Trier (East) high school gym.

I’ve been doing weather on TV in Grand Rapids longer than Leonardo DiCaprio has been alive.

I came straight from the University of Wisconsin after I completed a double major B.S. in Atmospheric Science and Physical Geography. My father sold me a car for a buck and I told people it was worth twice that (but not much more!). Until I got married, I lived in Old Orchard Apartments and could actually walk to work.

My first school speech was during the first week of December at St. Francis School in G.R.

I am forever grateful to all those who have allowed me to have this much fun over all these years. First, to the public – the viewers – the listeners on radio – those that come here to woodtv.com to read my forecasts and blog. Second to all my co-workers. From the other four AWESOME members of Storm Team 8 to the 120 people who work for WOOD, WOTV4 and WXSP – I really, REALLY appreciate all of you. I also want to thank my family for all their support over the years. The kids would wait until I came home from work to open Christmas presents.

After all these decades, I thought there might be some burnout…but no…I’m still as excited about weather as I was when I got up in front of Mrs. Pettinger’s kindergarden class to talk about the day’s weather and sometimes read the forecast that I would cut out of the corner of the morning Chicago Tribune.

I first visited a TV station in Chicago when I was about 11 years old. It was WBBM/CBS. I remember how nice the weatherman was (John Coughlin). He let me sit in the back behind him on the closing shot and be on TV. Just after I received my Eagle Scout Award, there was a special luncheon for new Eagle Scouts. They paired you up with someone in the profession that you were interested in pursuing. My sponsor was Major Gordon Spillinger, who was the meteorologist for Fort Sheridan near Highwood, Illinois. He gave me a weather flight training book, which I think I still have.

…A special thanks to my daughter #2 (Marie) for the nice tribute she wrote on my facebook page.

Oh…and the weather – three dry days in a row for today and the weekend. from Oct. 2 to Nov. 3 – that’s 33 days, we had only 7 days without any precipitation. November 1-4 was 5.75 deg. cooler than average. It was the first time we’ve had 4 days with highs in the mid 40s since April 4-7. The average wind speed on Thursday in G.R. was just 1.8 mph.

We’ve done a good job forecasting long-range weather of late. In July, I said that the period from mid August to October would be warmer than average. I thought that would flip in November. While we’ve been cool this week and we saw a little snow, the real cold is still over a week away. I still think this will be a cold and snowy end of November through December – the coldest December in at least 4 years (and probably more than that…and we stand a very good chance of seeing a White Christmas. Lake Michigan is relatively warm and the potential is there for some significant early winter lake-effect snow. Save a few extra dollars for the heating bill in December.

Also: If you haven’t read it yet, check out the Storm Team 8 Winter Outlook.

Happy weekend!

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