Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul described his disposition as sunny Monday after announcing his retirement but the long-range forecast for his final broadcast on March 23 isn’t quite as clear.
“I am smiling right now, and how often do I get to smile when I’m talking to you,” cracked Paul near the end of a telephone interview Monday night after he announced his retirement on the air.
He said the reaction to the news has been overwhelmingly positive. Several old friends, including former Channel 4 anchor Carol Crissey Nigrelli (known to TV audiences as Carol Jasen) reached out to congratulate him.
“My Facebook personal page is out of control,” said Paul. “I’m glad no one is screaming 'you’re being shafted' or anything like that. There is a lot of warmth and I’m hearing from other colleagues in other markets. Buddies I have all across the country.”
He realizes his sunny mood may change to sentimental on March 23 when his more than 30-year career on Buffalo TV ends.
“Probably, I’m betting you’re the same way,” said Paul. “The older you get the more sentimental you get. Whenever I see something involving memories with my daughters, oh man, the tears well up. Great memories.”
During the 17-minute interview, Paul talked about Channel 4’s plans for his final week, the decision to leave, his future plans and his positive relationship with the successor, Todd Santos, who was hired more than two years ago.
Paul, who turns 69 in April, said he plans to stay in Western New York.
“Yes, unless some out-of-state warrant has me,” he cracked.
He said Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina told him the station plans to make his last week in March a celebration of his career.
However, he is no Rich Newberg, the Channel 4 senior correspondent who had enough film of his career to put together an hour-long special when he left the station in late December.
“I don’t have much saved of everything,” said Paul. “I don’t have the Blizzard of ’85 or October Storm videos. Maybe they do. But I sure don’t.”
He wouldn’t say whether the decision to leave was his or if the station told him it was time to leave.
“Right now I feel it is time,” said Paul. “Todd has been having to do all these live shots. Now it is his time to stand in the sun. At first, when I was mulling this over, I was kind of worried how I would do psychologically. Because this job, like it is with many meteorologists I know, is too much of who I am. It is too consuming. I have had some concerns. Is it going to be too much of a gap in my life? I still don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t want to end up doing what is all too tempting – nothing. Sitting in front of the computer and playing. I feel very fortunate that I am really in good health. I need to lose some weight. It is really nice to feel like I am not on the edge of losing it.”
He said the discussions with management began in September, but it was decided to keep the plan quiet.
“Now I am glad it is out there because I have friends who are going to say, ‘I thought we were friends. You didn’t tell me anything,’” said Paul.
He added he no longer was as excited to go back to work on Mondays as he has been in his 28 years at Channel 4 and three at Channel 2.
“I don’t get tired of meteorology, and I didn’t get tired of being on the air,” said Paul. “I still have a damn good time. But I used to love Mondays. Even my kids used to say ‘Dad, all our other friends’ dads hate going back to work.' Well, that’s kind of gone now. The industry competition and the constant need to use social media, it can wear you down a little bit.”
Paul candidly admitted that the station policy of delivering weather reports with Santos on the same newscasts for the past year had been a little awkward.
“In all honesty, yes,” said Paul. “Not because I have any problems talking with him on the air. There are technical gaps sometimes, depending on what technology they use for his live shot, where he can’t hear me without a long delay. That can lead to an awkward transition. And sometimes it chewed up air time for both of us.”
The silly dual forecasts were likely done to increase Santos’ visibility.
“I got used to it because we’ve had such a fun relationship, which really made the whole thing much easier to take,” said Paul.
He repeated the sentiment he made in his on-air comments Monday that he feels very fortunate to have had such a long career in Buffalo after starting his career making $96 a week as a copy boy at WNEW radio in New York while writing jokes for legendary disc jockey and talk show host Ted Brown.
“I ended up doing way better that I thought I would financially,” said Paul. “You know how unstable this business is. It is more unstable now than ever but has always been. I am in a very lucky small percentage."
He also is in the small percentage of TV and radio figures on the air for 30 years who isn’t in the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
“I don’t stay up nights worrying about it,” said Paul.
Is he surprised he is not in the Hall?
“When I think about it, yeah,” said Paul. “But then I move on to other stuff. Like how lucky I have been in my career. The bottom line I said to my daughter Leslie last night ‘for a guy who is leaving this position I am in a pretty damn good mood.'”