Some early TV Memories

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s s, in addition to forecasting weather, I wrote and taped a one minute “feature” that ran in the 6 pm WSB-TV news. It was appropriately called, “WeatherTalk.” Crude by today’s graphic standards, I used poster board and magic marker and explained things like how radar worked, and what conditions produced hail or tornadoes and so forth. It was taped in my weather office, and, oddly enough, (it surprised everybody including me) it became so popular that it started showing up in their rating’s surveys so they would actually chop a news story to run WeatherTalk, something that was unheard of. before. I think it ran two or three times a week and I did it for over a year, so I had backlog of scripts I had written for it.

The consultant for Cox Broadcasting, noting the popularity of the little feature, offered me $200 for all my scripts and since I had done them on company time, I thought that was fair. He sent them to every Cox TV station’s weather person and told them to put it on their air. I’m sure that confused a lot of them because they were written in my “conversational style” of talking to viewers, and all those weather people, I’m sure, had their own way of presenting weather info. But I didn’t care. I had my 200 bucks.

The inspiration for WatherTalk came from a little booklet I wrote in 1967 (also named WeatherTalk) and which I sold to Atlanta Federal Savings and Loan as a promotional giveaway. Later, without their advertising on it, it was sold in Rich’s book dept. for a dollar. It was kinda cool. I was moonlighting at the U.S. Weather Bureau at the time when it was at Hartsfield, so I had a friend take pix of me at the various instruments in the bureau and those spiced up the little booklet.

Also, that was during the Vietnam war and Don Kennedy (Officer Don of the Popeye Club) was producing music programs for Armed Forces Radio, which aired in Southeast Asia and other places. He approached me and asked if I could rewrite my WeatherTalk scrips in a more general manner (not confined to Atlanta’s weather) and supply them to AFR. So, I did. And at 1 AM after work, I would drive over to Don’s studio and record a bunch of weather-related shows which he then forwarded to the armed forces.

I guess it was Memorial Day which made me think of all that. One of my proudest thoughts is that I supplied something, no matter how trivial, to the war effort. I lost a lot of good strong American friends in that Vietnam cluster fuck.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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