End of an era: Brad Spakowitz steps back from full-time duties
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - After nearly 40 years as a meteorologist, Brad Spakowitz is set to give his final regularly-scheduled forecast Tuesday night at 10.
The good news - you’ll still be able to see him on WBAY-TV, as he is taking on a different role at the station.
Spakowitz first announced the news Monday night on his Facebook page.
The foundation for decades of his weather forecasts could be found inside his childhood home outside of Pulaski.
“If we could go back in time and look at my bedroom when I was like 9, 10, 11 years old - here’s what you you’d find: It was like a lab. Test tubes, chemistry sets, microscopes, telescopes, rockets that flew, rock collections, rock hammers - it was like a little science lab, so I just always loved sciences okay, so that was really the start,” said Spakowitz.
After graduating from UW-Green Bay, Spakowitz landed his first weather job at WLUK, but seven years later, he joined the WBAY team for another seven years before heading south to Milwaukee in 1996.
There, he became the Chief Meteorologist at the CBS affiliate.
“And professionally, it was the best thing I ever did for myself and here’s why: I had to compete against what was down in Milwaukee, Paul Joseph. He was like the God weather guy, everybody trusted Paul Joseph and so I got to compete against him nightly. So, we both had the same set of forecasting material, so I could compare what did I have, what did he have and (I) learned a lot of little tricks he learned to cover himself in case anything went wrong - and I stole all of those things from him and I’ve used them ever since,” said Brad with a laugh.
Spakowitz returned home to WBAY in 2000, and eventually became the station’s severe weather specialist. He delivered the forecast for another 21 years.
“Making this decision to kind of cut back and paint my career in a different position or different areas has been difficult, because I do love weather and I do love doing weather, but the bottom line is I’m just, I’m exhausted. I just feel burnt out and in fact, it was Tom McCarey, or old news director, who just a few years ago I ran into and I was telling him, yeah, just feel burnt out and he says you know what, you need a new challenge,” said Spakowitz.
That challenge arrived last September, when Action 2 News at 4:30 made its debut - and included a series of science stories in a segment called “Three Brilliant Minutes with Brad.”
“A lot of those stories, I read them for the first time and then I need to go out there and present it the next day, where it’s kind of like every day, you’re cramming for an exam for the next day, so you’re learning a lot of information, figuring out how to tell it in an interesting, compelling way - try to find the wow factor about it, what kind of graphics does it need, it’s a new challenge believe me,” says Brad.
And that role will continue! Brad’s new role will involve him being on at 4:30 four days a week, and he will also help out with severe weather coverage - and even fill-in when needed!
The reduced schedule will allow Brad to pursue his many other interests.
A long-time entrepreneur, Brad is working on children’s books, educational materials, his weather graphics and animation business, and even a screenplay.
“I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds because I still get to come into work everyday - because you and others in this news department are also some of my dearest, closest personal friends and it’s not just a professional relationship. So, I get to see my friends, I get to be involved in the things I still love. Television will always be in my blood, it doesn’t necessarily have to be weather, it’s just there’s something about this industry,” said Spakowitz. “I remember when I was a little kid Jeff, I was probably maybe 5 years old, maybe 6 - I was working in the garden with my mother and she said ‘Brad, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I said ‘I want to have my own TV show’ and she laughed and she said, ‘Brad you are such a dreamer.’ I’m the last one laughing!”
For those wondering who will take his place during the evening newscasts, David Ernst will be stepping up to fill that role. He will be replaced on the weekend evenings by meteorologist Keith Gibson, who recently joined the team and has experience in both North Dakota and Mississippi.
Meteorologists Steve Beylon and Cruz Medina will continue in their current roles.
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