Robert Shiels was just 26 years old when WTOL-TV, Channel 11, hired him to replace Charlie Umpenhour, the first meteorologist on Toledo television.
The year was 1994. Umpenhour, hired in 1979, was eager to retire to West Virginia. C.J. Beutien was in his second year as WTOL's news director. Shiels was working at WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind.
"I think C.J. took quite a leap of faith in hiring me with less than two years of experience," Shiels said. "To be hired by the No. 1 station in the market was really an awesome break for me."
WTOL is still No. 1 today. And Shiels, now 37, is well on his way to becoming another Umpenhour in terms of length of service, anyway. Last week, he signed a three-year contract.
"I'd be happy if I spent the rest of my career at WTOL," said Shiels, a native of Wyandotte, Mich.
The CBS affiliate is expected to change owners within the next six months, going from Liberty to Raycom. The pending sale did not cause Shiels to think twice before making a three-year commitment, he said.
"Robert is an integral part of our team," said Mitch Jacob, who replaced Beutien as news director in 2004.
Shiels says his weather presentation is "not about cold fronts, low-pressure systems, and jet steams. It's about the person watching and [how the weather is going to affect] their everyday lives."
When asked why news anchor Chrys Peterson refers to him on the air as Bobby, he smiled.
"It's been a running joke through the years," he said.
At his first full-time job (KDUB-TV in Dubuque, Iowa), he went by Bobby. He switched to Robert in South Bend. When he arrived at WTOL, there was an internal discussion about which name he should use. Robert won out, mainly because it sounded more mature.
Peterson said she and former co-anchor Jeff Heitz began calling him Bobby about a year later. ("I used to get comments all the time," she said. "Viewers would say, 'I love it when you call him Bobby.' ")
Either name is fine with Shiels. Just don't call him Bob.
"I can't stand Bob," he said.
ATLANTA DEBUT: Former WSPD-AM (1370) talk-show host Denny Schaffer is starting his second week on WGST-AM in Atlanta.
Rodney Ho, who covers radio for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, listened to part of Schaffer's first show. An excerpt from Ho's Oct. 10 blog entry: "He sounded loose and pleased to be back on the air after a 10-day break since he left Toledo. He was pleading for phone calls at 11:45 a.m. ... The time period has been a basic failure for the station for years, as Neal Boortz [on WSB-AM] stomped Dr. Laura and Glenn Beck. The good thing for Schaffer is expectations are very low for him, so he should be given time to develop an audience."
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Former WTVG-TV, Channel 13, anchor/reporter Jim Carey is the director of sales and marketing for a company in Kennewick, Wash., that sells tornado sirens and emergency-notification software.