THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
You have heard their voices on radio and seen their faces on TV. Now The Blade goes behind the scenes to introduce you to your favorite media personalities. Stay Tuned appears the third Monday of every month.
First job: My first career job was as a forecaster for the New York Times Weather Page. For more than two decades, Penn State had a contract with the New York Times, and we would produce their weather page from State College, Pa.
First salary: $24,000 a year. The first four years of my career featured "modest" pay, and I took a financial sidestep when accepting my first job in television in Joplin, Mo., in 2006. (In the economy of small-market television, I was thankful to stay above $20,000 for that first TV job.)
My idol is: I do my best to model my life after Jesus. That is my single greatest goal each day (when my head is on straight). Also, I have a great deal of respect for Job from the Bible. Despite spectacular struggles, loss, and reasons for doubt, he never wavered in his faith. When it comes to my career, one of my mentors is Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz, a meteorologist at a television station in Philadelphia. He has lots of respect for the science of meteorology (something that isn't always valued by television weather folks), and he presents the weather in a way that connects very well with most viewers.
Most embarrassing TV moment: Lots can happen in six years on the air, and I guess I'm thankful that no single train wreck comes to mind. I've dropped the clicker on the air a few times, and had graphics systems freeze or crash on a couple of occasions. Less than a year ago, I nearly choked on a baby carrot immediately before a weather hit.
Station: WTVG-TV, Channel 13
Hometown: Worcester, Pa., a suburb about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia
College: Bachelor of science in meteorology from Penn State University (2004)
Family: Wife, Angie, and daughter, Finley (15 months old). We also have a dog, Hadley.
Highlight of my career: On May 10, 2008, an EF-4 tornado tracked through nearly 60 miles of northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri. This was a Saturday afternoon, and I happened to be the weekend meteorologist at a Joplin TV station nearby. My chief was out of the office for the afternoon, so I was the one giving extended storm coverage at the weather wall for a few hours. The tornado tragically killed about two dozen people in the viewing area ... [and] a couple viewers wrote letters and made phone calls, telling me that their homes were damaged or destroyed but they took shelter and survived without injury. I did nothing more than what was expected of me at work, but the system worked, and I was glad to play a positive role.
My favorite thing to do outside of work: It's hard to beat family time. My wife and I love spending time with our daughter -- she is a joy. We love to travel and visit family and friends from Pennsylvania to Kentucky and Missouri. Whenever we can, my family and I enjoy spending time outside, whether it be on the hiking trails or at a campsite. We enjoy mountain biking, and I got into kayaking in 2010. We're glad to be near the water once again after about six years of being fairly landlocked.
I think Toledo's best-kept secret is: To be entirely honest, I'm still learning the secrets, as my family and I just moved to Toledo in late July. We've been impressed by the variety of restaurants, and the downtown area that really has a lot going on. We caught our first Mud Hens' game on our first Sunday in town, and we loved Fifth Third Field. The cost of living is manageable in Toledo, with affordable housing options you won't find in some of the big cities of the Northeast. The climate is great as well, with four separate seasons, and opportunities for interesting weather in each one.
People may be surprised to know that: I was a volunteer firefighter for nine years, and even lived in a fire station, year-round, the year before I got married. This was in State College with the Alpha Fire Company. We covered about 100 square miles, and it was one of the few all-volunteer fire departments that cover a major university, high-rises 12 floors tall, and miles and miles of farmland as well.
In five years, I see myself: I hope to continue to do what I love, forecasting and presenting the weather on television. My wife and I hope to have one or two more kids, and we hope to own a home and transition away from renting (which does have its perks, we realize).
My dream job is: Any on-air weather job at a successful, respectable station like 13abc is a dream come true. I'm very happy to be doing what I'm doing, and I realize there are many who would like to work in this field, but they never get the chance. I don't take it for granted, and this drives me to bring my "A" game every day, as best I can.
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.