Monday, August 31, 2015

Dave Brown Day - celebrating a living legend in the weather community


Today is Dave Brown Day in Memphis. It's a bittersweet day for many as a longtime voice of calm and reason in the midst of weather chaos retires from WMC Action News 5 after 38 years (wow!).

I first met Dave over 20 years ago when I was in high school, preparing to head to college to begin a career in weather. Many of our encounters over the years have been via the local chapter of the American Meteorological Society, of which we are both members and regular attendees. Looking back on the last couple of decades I have known him, the one word I would use to characterize Dave, the one that seems most fitting, is genuine. You see, our AMS chapter membership is not just local meteorologists. It includes a large number of "Joe Publics," people who just have an interest or hobby in weather, maybe own their own weather stations or browse the computer models just like those who have a career in the field, but who have jobs doing other things. They attend to learn and socialize with others who have the same hobby or passion, which also happens to include many of those in the meteorology sector (public, private, broadcast, etc.).

Dave has been the most regular TV weathercaster at these meetings over the years and, to a person, he always greets those who attend - from teenager just beginning in the profession to long-time retired civil servant - as if he was just another hobbyist and friend, not a local weather legend with his own bobblehead.


Who Dave appears to be on TV - the reassuring figure who would be just as comfortable sipping a glass of iced tea with you as broadcasting into your living room or bedroom during a tornado outbreak - is exactly who he is in real life. He is genuine, friendly, and as down-to-earth as they come, never passing up a moment to deflect praise for this work to others. He was that person when a certain young boy in his teens (yours truly) with a fledgling passion for weather showed up for his first AMS meeting, just as he was a few months ago at another meeting, when the same young man had become established in the local weather community.

We'll all miss watching Dave Brown on channel 5. But I also happen to know that the Storm Tracking Team is in good hands. Ron Childers, who has been a great supporter for me personally and has been "in training" for the role of chief meteorologist at WMC for 25 years, takes over the reins, leading a younger, but just as capable and passionate, team of meteorologists.

I am certain Dave will enjoy a little slower pace, perhaps sipping sweet tea on the patio and listening to the thunder rumble without worrying about having to drive from Lakeland to Union Avenue to step in front of the camera and reassure his devoted viewers with that calming demeanor.

Best wishes to a living legend! I look forward to hearing about "retired life" at the next AMS function, as I'm fairly certain his passion for weather will lead him to a meeting or two, despite now holding the title of "emeritus."

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

What are your thoughts or recollections of Dave Brown and his career? Comment below! 

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3 comments:

Geo Moore said...

I was working at Channel 5 when Dave started. He was always a good guy. Earlier I helped my boss at WDXL in Lexington do AM proof of performance measurements (back in the mid-late 60's) on many radio stations one being the Milan, TN station Dave worked at before coming to MEM. George Moore, Retired WMC, Retired FedEx, WV4W

Austen Onek said...

In the entire 17.8 years that I have been in Memphis, I have only run into Mr. Brown two times: once at a Skywarn training session at the National Weather Service at the AgriCenter, and again a few years later at the City of Memphis Pink Palace Museum at the debut of the IMAX film "Tornado Alley". I've never been fortunate enough to be able to sit down and have a decent chat about weather and life in the Mid-South and the adventures he's had and the people he's met and his favorite weather, etc. etc. But, the twice-times that I've met him I found him to be straight-forward, cordial and a gentleman. Sadly, there are not enough people like this in the world these days, and their numbers seem to be getting fewer annually.

I try to walk away from every situation with something that will help improve a situation; learning how not to act from someone else's actions, watching for missed opportunities, picking up a chunk or tidbit of knowledge that will help someone else improve their lives or brighten their day. Watching Mr. Brown, and by extension, Mr. Childers, go about their business help me to be a better meteorologist and communicator. They put the viewer first and foremost and are able without over-the-top antics help to present a dangerous situation as understandable to the everyday Jane/John Doe. Inspirations for me in how I go about my job, doing my best to bring that information to the public without hype or over-the-top-ness. There is nothing superfluous about Mr. Brown. He is what he is, and that shines through in person and on camera. This is old school television broadcasting/journalism at its best and brightest, and Memphis can be proud that he is one of the local good things about the area bragworthy in an area that desperately needs an honest, smiling face that does not have a political statement or a sales pitch behind it.

I'm sure the decision to step down was long in coming, and hard thought put into it. I can only hope that when I am able to retire, the word from the public is as rewarding and full of trust as these last few weeks have been for him. Many happy returns, Mr. Brown.

Austen L. Onek, AMS Meteorologist / Station Scientist
WREG-TV News Channel 3 On Your Side
Memphis, TN, USA
www.wreg.com/weather
austen.onek@WREG.com

Meteorologist Erik Proseus said...

Well said Austen! We are fortunate in this market to have many great meteorologists to turn to on the broadcast side that are passionate about what they do, which includes informing and protecting the public. Thanks for your great work, as well as that of your colleagues at WREG!