Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Remarkable Steve Pool

There are some people in this world that really have a major impact on improving the lives of others, and few have done more than Steve Pool, who will retire this week as Chief Meteorologist at Seattle's KOMO TV.  As we shall see, his efforts at KOMO TV for over 40 years are only a small portion of his contributions to my discipline, dozens of students, the community, and the University of Washington.

Steve and I go way back.  It all started the mid-80s, when I got a call from KOMO-TV asking whether I might be willing to train Steve in meteorology, since he had just taken on weather responsibilities at KOMO-TV.   For the next year and a half, Steve and I worked together intensively to cover the essentials of meteorology, Northwest weather, and weather forecasting. An extraordinarily bright guy, Steve was a meteorological sponge, quickly mastering a huge volume of information that was equivalent to a good part of the undergraduate curriculum--and he also became decent forecaster as well. 

But while I might have had an advantage on the meteorology side, it was clear to be that he was a preternaturally talented communicator and in that domain I had a lot to learn from him.  I mean smooth.  An ability to connect with people.  A disarming smile, great empathy, and a personality that was so upbeat and sunny that it was like opening the window on a sunny, spring day.


We would regularly talk about difficult forecasting situations, driven by his strong commitment to not only get the forecast right, but to get the explanation correct.

As Steve mastered the meteorological world and became one of the most accomplished TV meteorologists in the nation, he called one day, suggesting the idea of UW students being interns at KOMO.  This internship turned out to be a huge success, giving roughly 3-4 students a year an extraordinary chance to assist in developing the daily weather offering on KOMO, including use of a complex graphics system, preparing forecasts, and even practicing in front of the camera.  All under the eyes and with assistance of a master weathercaster.   Many of Steve's student interns went on to successful careers as TV meteorologists, including Shannon O'Donnel, M. J. McDermott, Kelley Bayern, Nathan Santo Domingo, Jefferson Davison, Brandon Wholey and Matt Leach--to name just a few.  And now Shannon O'Donnel is going to teach a regular course in media communication, to complete the circle.  Steve's influence will be very, very long lived.

But there is more.  Steve encouraged KOMO to secure a weather producer (Erik Toth) to heighten their game even more, and Erik was later replaced by the extraordinary Scott Sistek, who has been at KOMO for over 20 years.  Importantly, Scott, with Steve's encouragement, moved into social media, and now Scott's weather blog is one of the region's finest (no, Scott and I are not in competition).  Steve and Scott even wrote an excellent, conversational book on Northwest weather that received an impressive 5-star rating.


Steve was extremely interested in outreach to young people, and a good example of his efforts was the annual Weather Education Day at Safeco Field. Before the game, THOUSANDS of students would enjoy learning about basic weather principles and local weather, presented by Steve and his guests (I even did it one time).



Steve became a mega-local celebrity, but this did not change him, and he used that celebrity to assist in fun raisers and other gatherings for local charitable organizations and importantly for his alma mater, the University of Washington. He helped raise millions of dollars for a whole slew of important causes.  And on the side, Steve built a small enterprise, assisting folks in learning how to be accomplished communicators.

As many of you know, Steve had a health set-back during the past few years, having to deal with prostrate cancer.  But after treatment, be appears to have beaten it, and ready for a new stage for his life.  The TV weather business has greatly changed over the past decades, making it a frenetic activity of many weather segments throughout the late afternoon and evening, with attendant demands to update social media.  In the old days, there was a 6 PM and 11 PM weather broadcasts, perhaps with one at 6:30 PM or 10 PM.   Now it's a race, and not as much as fun as before.

Whatever Steve does, I wish him the best in this new chapter of his life.



13 comments:

  1. tell steve im fallowing his footsteps im 14 years old i'm judah brediger and i will be there one day

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  2. Great tribute to Steve. Thanks to both of you for all you have done and are doing for the people of the Great Northwest.

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  3. Steve Pool is a remarkable human being and a genuine Northwest treasure.

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  4. This is so awesome, such a great tribute to a Northwest hero. Steve Pool is one of the first faces and voices I remember from local TV growing up in the 90s and I'll always be grateful for his presence. Thanks for this, Cliff--wishing him the best!

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  5. Steve Poole also did a lot to get weather and atmospheric science into pre-college classrooms in the region. Thanks, Steve.

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  6. Thanks for sharing Steve's contributions to the northwest, Cliff. It's a great way to live your life and must be very rewarding to him. I can imagine he will continue to find ways to impact people in retirement.

    I admire your choices. Best wishes, Steve!

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  7. I grew up watching Steve Pool's weather forecast. I'm 41. Every single school day morning Steve was on our television while us kids prepared for school. I can't count how many times we waited anxiously by for snow closure news :). He was the friendliest face on school days. I wholeheartedly recall how bright he made the morning news on those dark and dreary Seattle mornings. Genuine Mr Rogers feel and sunshine to the weather. Thank you, Cliff, for such an insightful write up. Certainly brought back memories.

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  8. I've long appreciated Pool's charm, common sense, instincts, and humility in respect to (and for) Ma Nature. He was clearly skilled - knew the ropes, the tools, the uncertainties. Thanks for telling us about your long relationship. Fascinating!

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  9. He's retiring? Rats! I met him and Jeff Renner (My other favorite TV weather-caster after Harry Wappler) once at a weather expo of some sort, I think in the Seattle Center area. And I just got Channel 4 back, thanks to the broadcast frequency reorganization, after a several year hiatus when they first went digital (I only do free TV). I'll miss him!

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  10. Steve's sunny disposition brightens many a drab NW day. Good tribute.

    PS "he called one day, suggesting the idea of UW students being interns at NOAA" perhaps you meant KOMO, rather than NOAA.

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  11. Moving back here from the East Coast 6 years ago, I turned on the TV and there was Steve Pool doing the forecast. It was like "Yes, I'm back home!" Thank you, Steve. Enjoy retirement and may God continue to bless you and your family!

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  12. Wonderful post! I was also one of his interns and can attest to his greatness. He is patient, kind, and not to mention extremely knowledgeable. I was very lucky to have worked closely with him (through UW-Tacoma) for six months. :) - Jordan Wilkerson KING 5 News

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  13. I also remember watching him as a kid every morning I wish him the best.

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