The first weatherman on TV was Jim Fidler. And like many weather people, he just sort of slipped into it.
He was a news reader at WLW radio in Cincinnati, occasionally spinning records. One of his engineering friends at WLW, who remembered Fidler had a degree in meteorology from Ball State, was working on a new technology called television.
He asked Fidler if he could gather up some copy and come down the hallway and help them with a test. Fidler grabbed the wire copy he had just finished, a bunch of information about the weather around the country.
Fidler sat behind a desk with a big, silver-colored microphone, on a set that was poorly lit.
But when his friend told him “you’re on,” he read about five minutes of weather copy, mostly looking at his copy, the whole idea of addressing the camera not fully matured at this point.
By all accounts, he did a professional job. The people who saw it loved the fuzzy, grainy, black and white telecast. However, it’s likely the only people who saw it worked at WLW because literally, no one had televisions in those days. Still, the first ever TV weathercast was in the books.
Fidler didn’t know what he started. A year later when NBC-TV in New York City decided to add a weathercast to its news program, it was with a sock puppet called “Wooly Lamb.” Later, an animated cartoon followed. That is a true story.
Fidler, for his part, had a long career as a meteorologist at many stations, including a two-year stint at the Today Show on NBC. He was a big deal. As you can probably gather from these pictures we found of him, he was a no-nonsense sort of meteorologist. He held AMS Television Seal of Approval #28.
For this story to be complete, we must add that it didn’t end well for Mr. Fidler. When he was 75, in 1987, he pleaded guilty to indecency with a child and was sentenced to 10 years probation and six months in jail, according to a UPI article dated December 22, 1987.
He died on April 28, 2007, at the age of 95.
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