38 years

November 5th, 2012 at 4:50 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   Thought you’d like to see a couple pictures from the old days.  Click the pictures to enlarge.  It was 38 years ago today (Nov. 5) that I did my first weathercast in Grand Rapids (technically, my first television weather broadcast was done in April 1967 from the gym at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL, when they were testing closed circuit television – eventually cable TV).  At the age of 16, I did some sports for WNTH-FM there in Winnetka – the guy in charge thought I had a really good “FM voice”).  I was hired by WZZM to do the new morning weather shift for $175 a week, working six days a week.  I did Monday-Friday morning and noon, then the 6 PM and 11 PM news every Saturday.  Good Morning America started as AM America in Jan. 1975 with Bill Beutel and Stephanie Edwards.  I had the entire five minutes at 7:25 and 8:25 AM with one 30-second commercial in the middle and a 10-second open and close.  Eventually, there were short news headlines added with Mark Savage, Dan VanderMyde and Tom Saizan doing those segments.  There were no computers.  We had the state map and the national map – large maps drawn by our 2 artists with a piece of plexiglass over the top of them.  Craig James and I drew fronts and put on temperatures with Magic Markers.  The radar we had was an old aircraft radar that was only black and white.  It didn’t show very light rain or light snow very well.  I took a camera and shot about 200 slides that I would show to describe the day’s weather.  When there was a tornado warning, we ran to the announce booth and hit a green button, putting our audio on the air.  The engineer on duty would put a slide on the air that said “Tornado Warning”.  After I read the bulletin, we went back to regular programming – we didn’t stay on the air.  We had red flashing lights around the building that would go off if there was a news or weather bulletin.  The news anchors at 6 and 11 weekdays were Cal Wierenga and Jim Rummel.  Dick Nelson and Henry Capogna did sports.  They read from scripts before we had a teleprompter.  The station was not on the air from midnight to 7 AM – we ran The Lone Ranger from 7 to 7:30 AM and Bozo from 7:30 to 8 AM.  The Noon Show featured news with News Director Jack Hogan and Dick Richards doing the interview segments.  Most of our news product was on film, which took hours to develop and get on the air.  2-inch tape was coming out and that went to 1-inch and then 3/4″ tape.  We generally did a two – day forecast.  Satellite data was more primitive in the ’70s.  We eventually built a light box and got NASA images printed out.  We would live them up where you could see ocean and land and draw the outline of the U.S.  I have more pictures from the “old days” and I’ll have to put a few more on the blog.  Note the hair over my ears…it was the ’70s.  Some of the most memorable weather events were the Blizzard of ’78, the Kalamazoo Tornado (1980), the Flood of ’86 and the derecho of 5/31/98.   We also had a radio station in the building, WZZM-FM (which is now WLHT) and I did weather segments with radio personalities Denny Hunt, Lee DeYoung and Rick Beckett among many others).   The morning shift was great when we our kids were small.  I got up early, was home around 1 PM and had the whole rest of the day.  I went to sleep when the kids did in the evening.  I moved to prime time in Oct. 1985.  It’s been a wonderful journey.  I’ve always said “they pay me to have fun”.


122 Responses to “38 years”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    It is already 23 and it is only 10:24… It is going to be a cold night.

  2. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    Congrats on 38 years…and lets hope for a few more good years yet.

    Now here is a long range guess from off to our NW



  3. Sandy(Hudsonville) says:

    Congratulations Bill!! We moved here in June of 77 & have been watching you ever since!! Here’s to many more years!! You are the best!

  4. brianfromatlanta says:

    Congrats Bill!!! Few have made it this far in the business and still have their drive and love for the field. I started watching you and falling in love with the weather in 1975, pounding a bowl of cooky crisp during your 825am segments. Watched you through school and wanted to persue the field because of the drive you have for made it fascinating to me. Loved watching those tornado warning slides with the beeps. I still remember those slides that came up for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. My high school counsilors had no idea what to do with me so i came to you and you pointed me in the direction of CMU and their program that fit with community colleges, So I attended West Shore Community college and trasferred to CMU and received my BS in Earth Science Meteorology Concentration. Became the first ever student volunteer intern for NWS MKG and also DTX. Worked at CWS, INC in Flint for a couple years and then to WeatherData Inc. in Wichita Kansas for a year. For the past 15 years I have been a Global Forecast Meteorologist for a large nationally know cable company in Atlanta, GA. It has been a fun, fascinating and sometimes bumpy ride these past 20 years. But in the end I get to experience the privalege of getting up every morning and look foward to going to a job i still find fun and very fascinating. Thanks, Bill.

  5. INDY says:

    If only we could vote fizzer off the Blogg YES ON THAT!!!! YES ON 2 GET OUT AND VOTE!!! INDYY…..

    1. Jack says:

      Have another SPRITE Indy…. ;-)

      1. Kimoeagle says:

        Have two.

  6. Kimoeagle says:

    Time goes by quickly when you’re having fun!

  7. Dan says:

    Bill: Congrats on 38 years! That is an awesome accomplishment! Thank God that many GREAT men/women have fought for us! This is what gives us the right to go out and vote!!! God Bless the true heroes in the world, serving now or have previously served!!!

  8. Skot says:

    When Bill retires I hope this becomes Laura V. blog. I bet Bill and INDY will be on here all the time messing with fissster.

  9. INDY says:

    Love laura…..INDYY….

    1. Skot says:

      mmmmm Laura….As Homer Simpson would say. Lol

  10. Seattle Girl says:

    Congratulations Bill! What an adventure you’ve had! I loved reading about how things used to be. Keep posting the pictures. And yep, that’s 1070′s hair! Gotta love it!

  11. wackyred says:

    Congrats on 38 yrs Remember age is like fine wine the older the better.

  12. Bob says:

    Hi Bill,
    Congrats on your 38 years in the business and I wish you many more! BTW great picture I forgot how wierd the hair and big glasses were back then.
    But I really want to commend you for your time and service to our community over the years where you have taken time out of your own personal schedule to show up and help at so many area events. This summer was one of where you came out and made a great night for our church kids when you showed up for their bicycle brigade.

    Thanks showing up and for caring!

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