Happy Retirement, Tom Skilling!

Tom Skilling
Tom Skilling

Tom Skilling is the greatest meteorologist the City of Chicago has ever had. He began his amazing 45-year run on WGN-TV in 1978, a few months before I was born. I don’t think a day of my childhood went by without ‘Chicago’s Very Own’ WGN, on one of the TVs, though that might have been more because of Bozo. To this day, I can’t trust anyone else’s weather forecasts. Tom’s, not Bozo’s.

WGN-TV (approximately 1990)

It’s late 1990 (33 years ago! I’m getting old…), October or November. I’m in the 7th grade and preparing my science fair project. The subject was tornadoes. I remember calling WGN and asking to speak to Tom. To my surprise, they transferred me to him, then I got another surprise when he answered the phone! We spoke for a few minutes, and then, shockingly, he invited me to visit him at WGN Studios. So, a few days later, my father, grandmother, and I walked in and watched the 9 o’clock news. It was more like 9:30-10:00, though, because the Bulls played that night. We had front-row seats for the telecast and met Allison Payne, Dan Roan, and, of course, Tom. He was even nicer in person than he was on the phone. After the news was over, I think I expected a 15-20 minute conversation, but it ended up being about 3-4 hours! Grandma recorded everything on an old cassette recorder, and then spent the next few days transcribing it, in its entirety, Tom told some incredible stories, shared facts about tornadoes, and provided us with a lot of weather maps and data, too. It was an incredible amount, to be honest. With his help (And Dad’s fantastic tornado in a box), I won my school science fair, and district science fair, and earned a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, for the city-wide science fair.

Enough about my nerdy formative years, that I never outgrew.

Thank you, Tom. For being a constant, reliable, and amazing part of my childhood. You treated a 12-year-old boy like a prince and left him with memories and stories still shared to this day. Enjoy every single moment of your retirement. WGN News was better because of you and won’t be the same without you. Even if February 28th, 2024, is snowy, and bitterly cold, it’ll all be sunshine and rainbows for you, sir, because you deserve nothing but the best.

Thank you, again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.