I have to admit that it was my addiction to the Chicago Cubs baseball team that caused me to become a fan long ago of WGN-TV weatherman Tom Skilling.
Skilling has been doing the weather on the Chicago superstation for 39 years and during a lot of that time has given forecasts before Cubs' games in a most entertaining way. That's how I came to know him. It didn't hurt that he's a UW-Madison graduate and got his start in the weather business at Madison's WKOW-TV in the early 1970s, eventually winding up at WGN in 1978.
Now this is nothing against our own weather people on our three major stations right here in town — Gary Cannalte on Channel 3, Charlie Shortino and his staff on Channel 15, or Bob Lindmeier and his bevy of meteorologists on Channel 27 — but I don't think any of them could equal Shilling's coverage of this week's solar eclipse.
Shilling was so overtaken by the eclipse that he actually burst into tears on the air.
As the Chicago Tribune quoted the chief meteorologist:
"My initial reaction was one of embarrassment," Skilling said after his adorable reaction to the "magnificence of the universe" on WGN-TV went viral and landed him on the "Today" show.
"They were pretty raw emotions to be broadcasting on a mass medium," Skilling said. "I was telling myself, 'Get it together, you're on television.' I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it, but I don't regret it. I'm kind of an emotional guy and it snuck up on me ... I was overwhelmed by the enormity of it ... it makes you realize we're a very, very small part of a huge universe."
Skilling, who was at a loss for words during a broadcast that displayed his infectious enthusiasm for his job, sobbed and exclaimed, "Oh look at that ... wow ... look at that" as the sun was blocked by the moon. Bystanders hugged him and helped him get through the segment. Many viewers agreed that watching Skilling was more fun than the eclipse itself, wrote the Trib.
Skilling admitted he is a frequent blubberer. He's previously sobbed at a Barbra Streisand concert, was brought to tears by the memory of the 1990 Plainfield tornado, and said, yes, he cries at movies.
When a Chicago Inc. reporter confessed that he, too, had recently cried at the Christopher Nolan World War II movie "Dunkirk," Skilling started crying on the phone.
"I cried too!" he said.
"What a gem," added reporter Kim Janssen.
I told you that he's not only entertaining, but a genuine human being as well.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to email@example.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.