Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Memorial

It is a sad day in Broadcasting and in South Florida. Bob Weaver has passed away. For those of you old enough to remember him, Bob will always be known as “Weaver the Weatherman.” Mr. Weaver was one of the first commercial meteorologists in the United States.

His career spanned over five decades starting in 1949 on WTVJ in Miami. Bob used to bring a note of humor into his nightly weathercasts when the situation gave him the opportunity to. Every evening at five minutes ‘til six the voice over on channel four would come on and announce that it was “Five-Fifty-Five and time for Weaver the Weatherman.” According to the broadcasting trivia I learned from my Broadcasting classes in college, Bob was the first regularly scheduled weathercast in the US.

I personally remember Bob Weaver for his practice of standing behind a large glass map of the US and writing in the weather systems as he did the weathercast. Years later I recreated this effect for a project some of my classmates and I had to do for a broadcasting production class in college. I was given the weathercast to do in our practice newscast.

For weeks I practiced to recognize the states of the US when displayed backward. I practiced writing legibly backward (a feat I can barely accomplish when writing forward these days) and I rehearsed my weathercast so that I could say a state and recognize it when it was displayed to me backward. I also had to remember when I was showing motion to reverse the directions in my head. East would be to my left, not my right.

The big day came and I aced it! I remembered that Florida was on the lower left of the map as I saw it. I remembered that Minnesota had its concave side to the left rather than the right when standing behind the big glass map. Our newscast was scored by our professor and he came into the studio to congratulate us on our performance. Dr. Morgan’s first question to me was: “Where’s the mirror?”

I blinked and looked at him uncomprehendingly. “What? What Mirror?” I asked.

“You were imitating Bob Weaver, right?” he asked. “You know the mirror you shot the weathercast through.”

“What mirror?” I repeated confused.

“How did you get the writing to look right?” asked Dr. Morgan “When you were writing on the glass, how did you make the camera see it right?”

“I wrote backward.” I replied “I assumed that was how it was done because if I wrote so that I could see it correctly it would be a mirror image from the other side of the glass where the camera is… oh. Oh!”

“Didn’t you know that Bob was left-handed?” My professor asked?

“No.” I responded. “That would have made things a whole lot easier!”

It had truly never occurred to me that Bob had been standing behind a map that, to him, appeared to be correct; wrote on it with letters that also appeared correct to him and was being shot through a mirror so that it looked correct to the camera (and therefore to the audience) as well. Dopey me! Now I know. I learned something that day.

I present this in tribute and in memory of Bob Weaver, a broadcasting pioneer who will be missed. My sincere condolences to the loved ones he leaves behind.

Don Bergquist - 22nd June 2006 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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