I'm Tom freakin Skilling!
June 5, 2008 7:58 AM   Subscribe

WGN-TV's Tom Skilling is legendary Chicago weatherman with an equally famous brother. While Sam Zell's ownership of Tribune Corporation has ruffled the feathers of many, even a mefite, it's very clear who is running the company.
posted by timsteil (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Tommy Skillethead, hooray!
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I see what you did there.
posted by chillmost at 8:17 AM on June 5, 2008

That video is hilarious.
posted by loiseau at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2008

Chicago's Very Freakin' Own...
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:29 AM on June 5, 2008

No. Skillethead is Jeff Skillings brother? Holy shit. Been watching that guy for years. Don't even live in Chicago anymore, but if he's on I will watch the weather.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on June 5, 2008

Many many moons ago, when I was about twelve and was producing a 'zine with my Atari 800 and a daisy-wheel printer, I scored an interview with Tom because I thought he was an interesting guy. Turns out, he's a really incredibly nice person with a real, genuine passion for meteorology. I mean, that sounds cliche, but a lot of weather personalities at this point are basically talking heads who read the weather reports. Skilling is a genuine weather nerd who waxes poetic about the first hygrometer he ever saved up for as a kid.

It's inspiring.
posted by verb at 10:06 AM on June 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

I can verify verb's impressions about Tom Skilling. As a weather nerd growing up in Chicago, mostly without cable, for years I lived for Skilling's long, wonderfully discursive weather segments on WGN TV's news. Every day, they gave (and give) him about 6 minutes or so to talk about the weather, and he still can't get in everything he wants to talk about.

Back in the mid 1990s (I was in my late 20s), I was still a huge fan, and my girlfriend wrote a note to Skilling telling him of my long-time fandom, requesting a picture. Skilling sent me an autographed 8" x 10" with a really nice note (judging from the handwriting on the envelope, he addressed it himself) and an invitation to come visit the studio (but I moved from Chicago before I had a chance). It's one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. Whenever I find myself with downtime around 9:30 Central, I make sure to surf over to WGN to get my weather nerd fix.

And now it'll be a comedy fix, too. The video is priceless. Thank you, timsteil.
posted by anaphoric at 10:41 AM on June 5, 2008

Chicagoans may be needing his services tomorrow from the look of the forecast.
posted by wierdo at 11:05 AM on June 5, 2008

And now it'll be a comedy fix, too.

just as an addendum, my wife is a total weather nerd too, so as a special surpise one year (on Groundhog's Day, where they actually had the groundhog from the movie of the same name), I got tickets to this luncheon sponsored by whoever gives out the local Emmys, which featured all the local weatherpeople who got up and gave speeches.

Most of them were pretty pitiful as far as presentations, but when Skilling walked in the place went silent. One female weathercaster (NOT meteorologist) who I won't embarrass by naming here got up and asked about the stupidist question you could think up. Just proved that all she was doing was reading a prompter, and didn't have a clue. Skilling could have crushed her, but just sort of brushed it off quite sweetly and let her go.

A guy from another station asked him why everyone thought his casts were better or more accurate, and he just turns away and smiles for a sec, and says

"Get yourself an hour-long newscast instead of a half-hour and you'll understand why"

The whole place exploded in laughter, politely.

I think one of the coolest things, is that he was probably the first gay TV personality on national feed. It's an open secret in Chicago, (he has never officially come out) and honestly, no one gives a shit. He is beloved in this town not for what/who he is, but what he does.

I grew up with him, and imagining Chicago without Skilling is like not having Bozo, or Ray Rayner, or Larry Lujack. He is as big a piece of this city as the Sears Tower, and I swear if you took a vote right now about which one people wanted to keep, there would be wrecking balls lined up on South Wacker tomorrow morning.
posted by timsteil at 11:11 AM on June 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I grew up with him, and imagining Chicago without Skilling is like not having Bozo, or Ray Rayner, or Larry Lujack. He is as big a piece of this city as the Sears Tower, and I swear if you took a vote right now about which one people wanted to keep, there would be wrecking balls lined up on South Wacker tomorrow morning.

Exactly. Tommy is one of the reasons why WGN beaming all over hell-and-gone on cable is such a source of comfort to us exiled Chicagolanders. It's so great to see him do the weather that I don't much care that it's not my weather.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2008

I sat next to Tom Skilling on a flight between Houston and Chicago a few years ago. It was the week his brother Jeff took the stand in his Enron trial, and Tom was evidently traveling home after attending it.

I was delighted because my wife and son are huge weather geeks and fans of Tom. We talked about weather-related stuff and I got his autograph for my son. He was as friendly and gracious as you could want, even in the face of the evident stress of his brother's trial.

It was also evident who on the flight was from Chicago, and knew who he was, and who was from Houston and wondered what all the fuss was about.
posted by hwestiii at 12:21 PM on June 5, 2008

Tom, and other news folks of Chicago history, are just so much better than you get from the rest of the country; I never realized how good I had it until I moved away. I haven't turned on the TV news in years, but I watched it all the time when I lived in Chicago.

Then I hit LA, and tuned in to a news story: Floodwatch! Raging rivers! Water everywhere! Oh no! The story itself was so amped up, yet it was ultimately just a string of stupid people having single-car accidents ("I don't know what happened, I was just driving along and then my car drove into the ditch") and a remote reporter standing on a corner in some neighborhood, talking about the torrents of rainwater -- then the camera tilting down to show a stream of water that had barely begun to get above the curb. The curb! In Chicago, you got floods that would leave you stuck in certain neighborhoods, because all the underpasses were flooded over the hood of your car, and nobody even talked about it on the street much less on television.

There's just an honesty to the Chicago guys, I don't know why or where it comes from.
posted by davejay at 12:20 AM on June 6, 2008

Just watched the video. I forgot how much I missed watching him until I saw it. He hasn't changed a bit -- and the sincerity of the anchorwoman who pretty much just lost it laughing, *that* is the kind of honestly I'm talking about.
posted by davejay at 12:25 AM on June 6, 2008

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