Almost every meteorologist’s biography you read on any website starts out with, “I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist from the time I was a kid.”
This is not true for me. My first passion was for journalism and politics.
I cut my teeth as an intern for Arkansas’s Second Congressional District long before I was tracking severe weather in that state.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I lived through the winter of ’78 and dug a tunnel out of my house through a record snowfall. Now that is a taste of winter!
I then moved to Arkansas in the early 80’s where I graduated from high school, received my degree in broadcast journalism at Southern Illinois University, studied with the BBC in Britain, and interned with a major cable news network in Washington D.C. I then returned to Arkansas for that first job.
Once I got into TV at KFSM in Fort Smith, Arkansas, it only took a few months before the “weather bug” bit me.
The weekend weather person had gone, and my boss asked me if I wanted to fill in. I didn’t know much about weather, but I loved geography and I knew every county, city and “one horse town” between Oklahoma City and Memphis. The station offered to pay my way through a university meteorological program, and that started me down the path.
I met Mrs. Hale, a year after I started in TV. She’s a fourth generation Texan, so we were married in Anderson, Texas.
We were both hired on at WLEX-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, where I was the morning meteorologist and she was my boss. It wasn’t a problem since we’d already been together a few years, and I was used to her running the show.
It wasn’t long before our son Quentin was born and we had a family.
The urge to gain experience in large market TV drew me to Kansas City, where I learned more about weather and television than I ever thought possible.
However, I realized I wanted to return to an environment where I could have more elbow room and be free to express myself.
In 1999, I got a call to be the chief meteorologist for KGBT CBS 4. After a quick check of the map, I knew we were heading to Texas.
A few years ago I decided to challenge my brain and go for the new American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval. I don’t mind telling you I was scared. Six months of study for a test that encompassed almost all of the science of meteorology, and I passed it with room to spare. I have to thank my wife for that. She pushed me very hard to get the new seal.
I have had the opportunity to add several extreme weather events to my resume including the Christmas Eve snow of ’04, Hurricane Dolly in ’08, Hurricane Hanna, and the February freeze.
In 2002 our daughter Camryn came into this world as a fifth generation Texan. Mrs. Hale says she is me in female form.
Both my children make me smile, but Camryn makes me laugh out loud when she drives her tiny sports car at the speed of light. My daughter is now a freshman honors business student at Texas A&M (Mays Business School). Quentin, my son, graduated from University of Houston Law and is now an attorney for an energy related company in Houston. Wow, not bad considering I needed a local college tutor, in Fort Smith, to pass my math classes.
In 2020 our latest addition came along. Born no bigger than a avocado he is now 90lbs. Kipper is our collie, a rough collie to be exact (just like Lassie) but I refer to him as a Great North American Rough Collie since he is 20 lbs. bigger than the normal male of the breed. He isn’t fat, just big boned.
Most recently KGBT CBS 4 evolved into CBS 4 in a cooperative with NBC 23. This new arrangement has me working with multiple, outstanding meteorologists to form what we call THE VALLEY STORM TEAM. One of my proudest achievements was convincing Freddy Vela to return to us where he now stands as the chief meteorologist on the NBC 23 side.
The saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. The television news business is ever changing and I have learned to change with it as best and as fast as I can. Gone are the days of video tape and microwave live trucks in Fort Smith, today it’s real time weather data, social media, and smartphones.