WKRG 60 Years of Weather Broadcasting and Technology

Tommy Young WKRG Weather
Tommy Young in the late 1960s at WKRG

Over the decades, the weather hasn’t changed as much as describing it and showing it to you on TV has. 60 years ago, describing and showing weather was as simple as black and white.

On the morning of WKRG’s first broadcast on September 5, 1955, it was 72 degrees with a light north wind. Weather data was measured at the airport- Bates Field. Low pressure was in the southwestern Gulf. There were no satellites until 1960. Even by the mid 1960s, satellite images were pretty crude. There was no radar network until the 1960s and the early displays were black and white and fuzzy. Data was lacking, for Channel 5 weather forecasters like Kevin O’Neil. Well before computers, he had a board and a grease pencil to draw maps. Gary Godwin had a few more visuals with regional data, provided by the Weather Bureau. While the middle 1960s brought clunky computers to government meteorologists, TV weather presenters like Tommy Young, could only wait for such technology.

It was not until the middle 1970s that the first geostationary satellite was launched. It would be many more years before TV5 could show clouds in motion. We were still using a marker to draw maps.

The middle 1980s brought widespread use of computers to TV. While Steve Peterman was near the end of the hand-drawn map era, as Bob Stuart started, color weather radar was made available to television. Here’s Bob Stuart in 1987, with an early satellite view. He was on the cutting edge! As we progressed through the 1990s, people like Jere Hough eventually got a 24bit graphics computer, with continuous access to radar and satellite data. Since then, technology has taken us by storm. 60 years after simple display boards and markers, we have more than a dozen computers to help us forecast and give you the weather.

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