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Dick Goddard's still a force of nature at 27 Celsius
Veteran weatherman celebrates 50 years on the air in a new book
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN


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Vivian Goodman
 
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
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At 80, Northeast Ohio's longest-serving television meteorologist has no plans to retire. Dick Goddard has a chance of getting into the Guiness Book of World Records for his half-century of forecasting in the highly unpredictable location of Northeast Ohio. To mark his 50th year on local TV, Goddard has written a book full of fond memories and gale-force opinions.

Dick Goddard shares his sunny outlook

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Goddard loves sports and played with the "Ghoulardi All Stars". We tested him on his knowledge of local mascots.


Goddard loves sports and played with the "Ghoulardi All Stars". We tested him on his knowledge of local mascots.

Goddard treasures his long friendship with news anchor Robin Swoboda and loves making fun of her cooking.


Goddard treasures his long friendship with news anchor Robin Swoboda and loves making fun of her cooking.

Goddard lifts his new buddy Henrietta out of her cage at the Medina shelter


Goddard lifts his new buddy Henrietta out of her cage at the Medina shelter

(Click image for larger view.)

In Northeast Ohio, when I say “Goddard,” you say “weather.” It’s been that way for half a century.

To mark his 50th year on local TV, Dick Goddard has compiled a cornucopia of stories, jokes and essays, illustrated by his own cartoons.

We  talked about the Gray and Company book, "Six Inches of Partly Cloudy" with the meteorologist as he was visiting friends … at the Medina County animal shelter.

A long-haired Chihuahua named Cherry  was growling at him when we arrived.

Goddard thinks she must be one of his critics,  “Because of my five-day forecast.“

He’s donating all proceeds from the book  to animal charities.

He loves being able to go on the air to find felines and canines  good  homes,

 “ Yeah, Channel 8, my favorite television station since 1980, has allowed me to put pets on the air for adoption,  and I’m so happy to see, Vivian, lately all the channels in Cleveland I believe  now have pet adoption segments.”  

Prefers animals to most humans

He  has three cats at home , but he denies preferring cats to dogs,  “Oh, no, I love them all. All the four foots and the feathered flock.  Yeah. I always say you can trust the quadrupeds, the four-footed animals. It’s the two-footed , carbon-based mammalian bipeds that are the problem on earth .”  

His book’s a grab-bag of anecdotes and trivia, breezy and sunny, but Goddard gets serious, too.  He bristles with indignation about TV evangelists; U.S. involvement in foreign wars; junk science; astrology, psychics; and global warming alarmists:

I would say television is probably guilty for overhyping everything. We’ve had these storms since day one. I put a hit on the televangelists in the book. Some of these guys are saying ‘Hey, tsunamis , earthquakes, we’re being punished for our sins. This has been going on forever. I mean we have an earthquake every ten minutes somewhere on earth. We’ve had volcanoes since the day earth was born. So anyway, it’s called nature!”  

He reveres nature as much as he abhors religion.

 “ I’ve read enough to realize, even Steven Hawking said he’s not sure this terrible place was created by a God. He said there’s no reason for a God. Abe Lincoln never belonged to a church. He was not a Christian. And Thomas Jefferson, he just abhorred the clergy. He just discounts all those miracles. And it makes sense to me. “ 

Art skills came in handy
 

Goddard’s on a soap box for much of the book, but he lightens it up with whimsical drawings -- everything from self-portraits to woolybear caterpillars.  He studied art at Kent State University and the cartoons he mailed to Walt Disney’s studios after graduation drew a response:

 “A nice letter, I still have it somewhere, saying  ‘Yeah come on out . We’d like to talk to you.’ Same week I had an offer out of nowhere to try weather on television because I worked overnight at the weather bureau while I was going to Kent. They were looking for a guy who at least knew what an isobar was. “

His art skills came in handy at the start of his career.

 “ I chalked for about four hours a day at Channel 3, and I actually painted clouds back then before we actually had satellite photographs. And I draw wooly bear stickers. Our 39th wooly bear f stival, Vivian, is  October 9th in Vermillion.”   

He dispels the common notion that he dreamed up the wooly bear forecasting myth all by himself.

 “Somebody once said, ‘You know that caterpillar, that thing has an orange middle and I’ve noticed when the orange middle is really wide we don’t get a lot of snow. And if they’re fat and fuzzy it’s a cold winter. And if they’re skinny and scrawny, it’s going to be a mild winter.”

Goddard is legendary among local TV personalities for pranks and practical jokes.  He especially enjoys teasing Channel 3’s Robin Swoboda.

 “She invited me to Thanksgiving Dinner a few years ago at her home in Medina. She cooked the turkey and I said to Robin, ‘How come you’re not eating the turkey?’ and she said ‘I don’t think it’s cooked enough. You can’t be too careful.’  So I say, Robin’s not a good cook. Matter of fact, if you’ve had a meal from Robin, you pray after you’ve eaten.”  

Fifty years in the same media market. That is rare for a TV weatherman, and Goddard has done it in an especially  difficult location  to be accurate  in forecasting:

 “I tell the youngsters when I talk to them and they want to be weather people. I would say if you’re very sensitive and you have a thin epidermis, go to Yuma, Arizona, and forecast there. You’ll probably never miss a forecast. But this thing called ‘lake effect’, it’s pretty unique. There are only about four places on earth that have to deal with lake-effect snow, and that’s almost impossible to pinpoint.”

Into every life a little rain must fall 

At Channel 8,  they call Goddard “the franchise.” But everyone’s life is at least partly cloudy.   Dick Goddard’s second marriage ended in divorce after his ex-wife was charged with domestic violence. He says it was very hard on him.

 “It was , because in this case alcohol was involved  and boy when demon rum takes over,  that really skews everything. So, yeah, everybody has good days, bad days. I’ve had so many good ones, though, so I have no complaints.”  

He  says he has no plans to retire although he knows some viewers think it’s time he called it quits. He’s had critics, especially when six inches of partly cloudy lands on front stoops:

 “ For that less than one percent of the people who are hyper-critical of those of us who try to outguess the weather our final words probably would be, ‘Would you like to know what the weather is? Look out the god-damn window.’ I think that would be a fitting climax. It would be my last show either way. “ 

Dick Goddard , celebrating 50 years …at 27 Celsius. 


Related Links & Resources
Dick Goddard's website

Listener Comments:

A wonderful interview with a charming man! NE Ohio is fortunate to have a treasure like Mr. Goddard residing


Posted by: Denise (Akron) on August 25, 2011 10:08AM
I've lived in Akron since 1970 and have always enjoyed Dick Goddard. I adopted a dog because of him.

Do you know if he will be having a book signing in Akron? The book is a must because of Dick's charity.

The last line where he tells how to learn what's going on with the weather is great. I've e-mailed the link to 6 out-of-state friends.


Posted by: Peter Henriksen (Akron) on August 24, 2011 9:08AM
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