Media Moves

Veteran Chicago TV station meteorologist Skilling to retire early next year

October 17, 2023

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

The following excerpt was sent out from Editor & Publisher:

Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling, who has defined the gold standard of being a TV meteorologist and has been forecasting the weather on WGN-TV for the past 45 years, announced on WGN Evening News that he will retire on Feb. 28, 2024.

“If you had told young Tom Skilling that he would go on to have a career in weather spanning seven decades, working in Chicago, with some truly wonderful people, I think he would be overjoyed,” says Skilling. And that’s how I feel today. Overjoyed at the colleagues I’ve worked with, the viewers I’ve met, the stories I’ve covered. Overjoyed and grateful. I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything.”

Skilling started his successful career at the unheard-of age of 14 at WKKD in Aurora, while still in high school. He had a series of radio and TV jobs in Illinois and Wisconsin before coming to WGN-TV in August of 1978.

“There was a time when weather forecasting was seen as a not-serious profession,” says WGN-TV News Director Dominick Stasi. “But Tom has taken it to a much higher level. He carefully explains complex meteorological concepts in layman’s terms, support by graphics often featuring isobars and upper-airs charts. Nobody was doing that when he started. Bottom line, he has always treated the audience with respect.”

In addition to his weather forecasts on WGN News, Skilling hosted nearly 40 years of severe weather seminars at Fermilab, often welcoming in a “who’s who” of severe weather experts from around the world. He has also reported firsthand on the weather from locales as varied as Alaska, Las Vegas, an ice-breaking ship in the middle of Lake Huron, and, most famously, was once chased by a tornado in Oklahoma.

“Tom Skilling is a Chicago institution. There isn’t another meteorologist in history of the city, or the country for that matter, who has been more impactful doing what he does,” says Paul Rennie, WGN-TV vice president and general manager. “His enthusiasm for the weather, backed by the constantly evolving technology, is simply unmatched. And above all else, he cares about people, from our viewers to his colleagues, he truly cares about the well-being of others. I’m not alone in saying we’ll really miss him.”

Skilling is a multiple Emmy Award-winner from the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and funds a scholarship to assist a local college student each year. He was presented with the Illinois Broadcasters Association “Broadcast Pioneer” award in 2018. In recent years, he has dived headfirst into the science of climate change, leading talks and participating in conferences across Chicago and the United States.

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