Reliving the Glory Days of the Weather Channel

The Weather Channel logo screen - 1982

I’ve been clean for several years, but at one time I was a hardcore Weather Channel junkie. From the late ’80s through about the mid-1990s, I watched the Weather Channel more in one week than I watched most other channels in a year. And so it makes me just a little bit sad to see what has become of my once-favorite TV destination. Instead of the sober, lo-tech and slightly geeky take on weather that the network used to specialize, we now have a cesspool of lame reality programming and ugly public disputes with cable providers.

But it was not always so. When it was launched in May 1982, the Weather Channel had one mission and one mission only — to broadcast the weather. Sounds so simple, how could it possibly work? Because the internet is so awesome, we have footage from TWC’s first day on the air. (Head to the 15:10 mark to witness cutting-edge TV weather graphic production.)

Warning: Severe weather/Weather Channel geekery to follow. This is one of those things you either get or just shake your head over.


My love affair with the Weather Channel began some time in the late 1980s, judging by the dates on the clips and images shown on the outstanding TWC Classics website. Although I already was keenly interested in weather and meteorology from about the age of 7, that turned into a straight up obsession thanks to TWC. During the summer especially — when I was home from school — I kept it on almost all the time, even if it was just background noise.

Not only was I genuinely interested in the weather content, I just found everything about the station so… soothing. I’ve recently read a description of old-school TWC as “TV valium” and I agree with that, in the best way possible.

For several years I felt like I had a connection with the station’s on-camera meteorologists, whose names and faces I still recall easily and with some fondness. In no particular order, some of them were…

The lovely Jill Brown…

The Weather Channel - Jill Brown

Jim Cantore (with hair!)…

The Weather Channel - Jim Cantore

Bruce Edwards…

The Weather Channel - Bruce Edwards

Marny Stanier…

The Weather Channel - Marny Stanier

Bill Keneely…

The Weather Channel - Bill Keneely

Marshall Seese…

The Weather Channel - Marshall Seese

Cheryl Lemke…

The Weather Channel - Cheryl Lemke

Jeff Morrow…

The Weather Channel - Jeff Morrow

Sharon Resultan…

The Weather Channel - Sharon Resultan

Declan Cannon…

The Weather Channel - Declan Cannon

Jeanetta Jones and her rockin’ hair…

The Weather Channel - Jeanetta Jones

Dave Schwartz…

The Weather Channel - Dave Schwartz

Dennis Smith…

The Weather Channel - Dennis Smith

and the king of hurricanes, John Hope (seen here with Charlie Welsh).

The Weather Channel - John Hope & Charlie Smith

But I didn’t watch just for the on-air personalities, no sir. TWC also ran charming little segments on how to fix up and improve things around your home. One that sticks in my memory years later is this one with Marny Stanier, who explains why you should run your ceiling fan all year long.

And here’s Marny shilling for Kraft cheese. Yummy!

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of TWC for me was the music. The network got somewhat of a bad reputation as a clearinghouse for bad smooth jazz and cheesy canned jingles — usually included as part of their local forecasts that I watched thousands of times — but that’s unfair. If they gave me absolutely nothing else, the Weather Channel was responsible for introducing me to one of my favorite all-time songs — “Last Train Home” by the Pat Metheny Group — in one of their Travel Forecast segments.

During the late 1990s, as I flamed out of my college meteorology program and my passion for weather died down, so too did my interest in the Weather Channel. Not helping things was how the network got slicker and slicker over the years, and began to stray further from its core mission. The death knell for me and many other fans was when the channel was acquired by NBC in 2008. To watch the station now is to see it bear precious little resemblance to the charming, calming signpost it represented on the dial 20+ years ago.

Luckily, we longtime fans are not without anything to remember the good days by. Sites like TWC Classics or YouTube’s wxretro, hookecho80, and theweatherchazz channels have hours upon hours of great footage from the days when the Weather Channel aimed to inform and educate rather than entertain and titillate.

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