During the summer of 1995, my fiancée (now wife) and I were driving home to Washington, DC after attending a friend’s wedding in Boston. She was testing and evaluating weather sensors for NOAA at Dulles Airport, and I was writing computer code at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. On a drive that long, there are lots of opportunities to talk about the future. We were both 25 years old, scheduled to get married in only a few months.
I told her I wanted to give television meteorology a try, as I had tinkered with it during graduate school. I told her that I didn’t want to be 40 years old, looking back, and wondering what if. A few months later, I landed my first job in television in Roanoke. Eight years afterwards, I moved on to Lynchburg. It has been a very rewarding journey, teaching me much about weather and communications.
But after nearly 20 years, it is time for a change. I have accepted a position with Climate Central in Princeton, New Jersey. Climate Central is a science, journalism, and media non-profit organization. I will be working on their Climate Matters project with fellow Penn Stater and broadcast meteorology alum, Bernadette Woods Placky.
The opportunity is tremendous, and the professional challenge is an exciting one.
Certainly, there will be things I miss. Most of all will be Virginia itself. It is my home. I was born and raised here, and I have always taken a sense of pride knowing I have walked in some of the same spaces as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. Ask any of the people I went to Penn State with, and they will tell you stories about my stubborn Virginia pride.
Like the old Robbin Thompson and Steven Bassett song, Sweet Virginia Breeze, no matter where I was in Virginia, I was home. Richmond, Roanoke, Leesburg, Fairfax, Lynchburg, Virginia Beach, the Northern Neck, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, and Blacksburg all carry great memories. Roots go deep here. My paternal grandparents met in Campbell County, my maternal grandparents in Halifax County.
I think about the wonderful places I have visited: Monticello, the State Capitol, William and Mary, George Washington’s Birthplace, Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, Smith Mountain Lake, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Tri-State Peak, the Roanoke Star, the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. So many more.
But most importantly, this change will allow me to spend evenings with my family. I have missed too much already. I want to coach Little League before my son grows out of it. I want to see my daughter in her theatre productions before she graduates high school.
And I also look forward to more evenings sharing a glass of wine with my ever-so-patient wife. Her tolerance of me and my career has been boundless over the last 20 years. This change gets us closer to her extended family and gives her the opportunity to spend more time with her best friend: her sister.
No one does this alone. I have met tremendous people over these last two decades who have helped shape my work. I am deeply grateful to Randy Smith, the General Manager who hired me twice, once in Roanoke in 1995, and again in Lynchburg in 2003. I was also fortunate enough to have Bill Foy as a News Director at both stations during that time. Bill trusted me enough to make big decisions on weather coverage, which is something that has became increasingly rare in the industry. And of course, Chuck Bell, who put in a good word for me to get all of this started in 1995.
So many others to thank for sharing their knowledge over the years: Tim Callahan, Dennis Carter, Danner Evans, Justin Feldkamp, Matt Ferguson, Donna Harris, Bruce Kirk, Pattie Martin, Len Stevens, Emmett Strode, and Lyndsay Tapases. From the older days: Julie Bragg, John Carlin, Justin Ditmore, Barbara Gibbs, Karen McNew, Jamie Muro, Lee Ann Necessary, Ted Oberg, Amit Patel, Greg Roberts, Samara Sodos, and Rebecca Stewart. And still a few more that I was able to work with twice: Angela Hatcher, Frances Scott, Jamey Singleton, and David Tate.
And I would also like to thank Robin Reed at WDBJ. He sat on the AMS Board of Broadcast Meteorology shortly after I started my career, and I reached out to him to find out about serving on the Board. In 2006, I was invited to serve, and after a couple of years, my peers asked me to serve as Board Chair in 2009. I met wonderful people through the AMS Broadcast Board, and it sowed the seeds for my new opportunity at Climate Central.
Thank you sincerely for allowing me into your homes to inform you about the weather and for allowing me into your schools to teach your children about the weather.
See you in cyberspace!