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Ch.4 meteorologist Don Paul announces he will retire in March



Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul announced on the 6 p.m. newscast Monday that he will retire in a few months after more than 30 years in the Buffalo market.

"It is time for me to fold up my tent and pitch it in the backyard and go home," said Paul in light comments made at the end of the newscast.

Paul, who turns 69 in April, said his last day will be March 23. That's when his contract expires.

"I have been so so fortunate all the years I've been here," Paul told viewers. "The incredible affection I've gotten from so many thousands of you."

He added he doesn't have any immediate plans after leaving in March.

"I may just hang out in the produce section at Wegman's, " cracked Paul.

The departure of the respected Channel 4 forecaster will come three months after Channel 4 senior correspondent Rich Newberg, 68, left as the station appears to be trying to appeal to a younger demographic.

News Director Scott Levy also said the departures of Paul and Newberg -- believed to be two of the higher- paid, on-air employees -- will enable Channel 4 to use any savings to hire more people in the news department.

Paul has been with Channel 4 for 28 years over two different time periods, with a three-year stay at Channel 2 in between.

He will be leaving several months before Channel 2 weather anchor Kevin O’Connell, who announced last June that he will be winding down in 2017 after the final 18 months of his contract are over.

Both stations already have replacements ready.

Channel 4 hired Todd Santos in August of 2013 as Paul’s eventual replacement.

Channel 2 hired Patrick Hammer last summer as the likely eventual replacement for O’Connell.

Levy confirmed that Santos will become the station's chief meteorologist after Paul leaves in two months and that the station will add someone to the weather department to have the same size team it currently has with Paul, Santos, Mike Cejka and Andrew Baglini.

"As we entered the new year, the station felt it was a perfect time to start the transition in the weather department," said Levy. "Under Don's leadership, Todd spent the past few years learning from him directly, which should help with the transition."

Paul's pending departure wasn't unexpected.

A year ago, Paul’s long-term future looked at the very least cloudy, as he started sharing weather reports on the important weekday newscasts with Santos.

At the time, Paul went on Facebook and wrote “just want to say to some of you it is not in my plans to retire at this time.”

Paul’s post solicited several comments of praise and support and some suggestions that Channel 4’s decision to have both Paul and Santos work the same newscasts was a little silly. The silly practice continued Monday on the 5 p.m. and the 6 p.m. newscasts but may no longer be necessary when Paul departs.

Paul’s statement a year ago that “it is not in my plans to retire at this time” ignored the fact that the plans of Channel 4 management superseded his plans no matter how popular he is with viewers or in audience research.

In other words, it was management’s call and not Paul’s on when his storied career at the station was going to end.

Western New York is known as a TV market that is resistant to change, so it isn’t surprising that Paul’s Facebook post a year ago led to so many messages of support. Viewers either love his sense of humor and his weather style or have tired of it.

The Facebook post might have been a good public relations move for Paul, but management has often been able to ignore public sentiment. That is especially true when it thinks it can save some money by eventually replacing someone as well-paid as Paul has been over the years.

In TV news, the one thing that is as difficult to beat as Mother Nature is Father Time.

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