31 May 2019

Broadcast Meteorology Loses a Giant Today

Posted by Dan Satterfield

In 1979 my professor at Oklahoma Univ. announced that we were to have a break from a blackboard full of equations for the day. Instead, we had a broadcast met from KTVY TV in Oklahoma City who talked to us about possibly working as an on-air meteorologist. This was an era when there were few degreed meteorologists doing TV and in fact, it was looked down upon by more than a few folks in the field.
That talk got me to thinking about it and on a lark, I applied for an unpaid internship that summer in my home town of Tulsa. To my shock, the Chief Meteorologist at KJRH TV, Gary Shore said yes! A few years later I auditioned for an on-air job, again as a lark, not thinking I had any chance at all of getting it. To my shock, Merril Teller hired me.
Now, 40 years later, here I am still doing it, and it’s no longer looked down upon in the science community. In fact, the AMS considers those few members of the society who work in media of all kinds as extremely important. We now live in a world where good science communication has never been more vital.
Here is what this is all about: The meteorologist who talked to my class that day was Jim Gandy who went on to work for much of his career in Columbia, South Carolina where he was among the first mets to begin covering the serious threat we face by climate change. He did this in an area where it would likely bring him grief from some viewers, but as he often said, the science is the science, and “it’s our job to cover it”, even if it is unpopular with some who do not understand it. If anything that makes it even more necessary.
Today, Jim Gandy retires from WLTX TV in Columbia and our profession loses a textbook example of how you do this job right. We will still have Jim at conferences, but the viewers in South Carolina will be the poorer.
Jim, you and Ann deserve to relax and enjoy yourselves. You’ve made lasting contributions to the science and to the American Meteorological Society, and your confirmation as a Fellow of the AMS was well deserved.
Finally, thank you for the spark that started me on the same path you took. I am honored to call you a friend.
You’ve had a wonderful ride Jim. I have as well, and it started with that talk you gave on a sunny spring afternoon in 1979.
Happy Retirement Jim!