For as long as he can remember, NBC Channel 5 Weather Team Senior Meteorologist David Finfrock has always loved weather and how it has changed over the years.
Finfrock was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Keene Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Keene City Hall.
He has worked for the station for 43 years and now calls himself “semi-retired” and only working up to 100 days a year.
“I’ve always really loved my career at channel 5,” he said. “I was very fortunate to start out in a top 10 market. That just doesn’t happen. Things were different back then.”
For the first 15 years of his career at channel 5, he was the morning metrologist. He was then named the station’s chief meteorologist up until about a year and a half ago.
The station has only had three chief meteorologists in its 75-year history: Harold Taft, Finfrock and Rick Mitchell.
It was Taft who was a “pioneer” in television meteorology, Finfrock said. Before Taft worked for the station, he briefed pilots at American Airlines on the type of weather they might encounter before they would travel using maps.
Taft brought maps to the TV station to give viewers a visual of what type of weather they might see throughout the day and night, Finfrock said.
It was when a hurricane hit Houston when Finfrock really became interested in weather.
“That made a big impression on me,” he said. “I started tracking the hurricane. This was before the days of the internet and the weather channel. You would just sit and wait and listen to the radio. Every six hours you’d get a report of, ‘Here’s the longitude and latitude of the storm.’ ... By the time I was in high school, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from Texas A&M University in 1975, he spent time as a field researcher on the Juneau Icefield Research Program in Alaska.
He later received a call from Taft asking him to interview with him. On the way there, he said a tire from a tractor trailer fell off and ended up landing by his driver’s side door. He thought about turning around and going home then, but he stuck it out.
During his interview, Taft asked him to sit on the platform designated for the anchors, introduce himself and then walk over to the weather map.
“I thought it was a disaster,” Finfrock said. “Unfortunately, when I got up to walk over to the map, I didn’t gage very carefully how far it was in the back of the platform where it drops off. So I start to roll back and the chair’s going over.
“I stand up to my feet. I didn’t go over with it, but you heard this tremendous crash where it landed. I walked over and did the weather.”
About a month later, he was surprised to receive a call from Taft offering him the job. A couple years later, he asked Taft why he hired him, who said if he could not break his concentration during the interview he could handle anything during a live broadcast.
“You never know where those blessings are going to come from,” Finfrock said. “If that chair wouldn’t had fallen over, I never would have gotten this job.”
Not only has weather changed over the years, he said, but also the way it’s described to television viewers. From black and white radars to color radars, written maps to computerized maps or radio to TV, many things have changed over the years, he said.