Goddard's life as meteorologist includes plenty of humor, which was on display in Aurora

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- Dick Goddard, who has spent a half century as a TV meteorologist, mostly on WJW-TV8, wanted to become a cartoonist as a youngster.

After joining the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, he was told he had an aptitude to become a meteorologist.

"I couldn't even pronounce it," he said, smiling. "I went back to the barracks and said, 'Have you guys ever heard of a meteorologist being shot?'"

The answer was no.

"I told [the commander] that's what I wanted to do," he said. "So here I am. I got on TV by accident."

Goddard was the guest speaker Jan. 15 at the Aurora Study Club's monthly meeting at the Church in Aurora. More than 120 people attended.

"In their wisdom, the Air Force first assigned me to Greenland," he said. "I was there for 18 months -- and not one North Korean made it to Greenland."

Goddard's talk was filled with humor.

"There are three things in life you should not know how they're made -- laws, sausages and long-range weather forecasts," he said.

Goddard said the popularity of TV weather forecasters has grown since the creation of the Weather Channel on cable TV.

"Youngsters write to me asking for weather stuff," he said. "Some of the letters are addressed to Mr. Gudder and Mr. Gardner."

He said young people write things like: "We watch the news until you come on, [then they presumably stop watching]," and "We don't watch you [on Channel 8]. We watch Channel 3 instead."

Goddard spent part of his talk poking fun at former Channel 8 news partners Robin Swoboda and Aurora's Tim Taylor. "Robin is such a bad cook, if she makes you a meal, you pray after you eat," he joked.

Goddard talked about how it was sometimes easy to mix up words during a broadcast. One time, he mentioned a sponsor named City Chevrolet, when he accidentally switched the beginning consonant sounds of the words.

When humorous mistakes like that took place, he said Taylor, laughing, "would put his head down, and with his curly hair he looked like a hedgehog."

"[Taylor and Swoboda] would pound the table and laugh," he said.

Another humorous moment occurred when Goddard, asked to fill air time at the end of a broadcast, talked about male frogs serenading female frogs, and how in March the frogs are "the spring peepers -- the gatekeepers of spring."

The show's boss asked the members of the news crew how they would fill the air time. Goddard, on the air referring to a photo of frogs that he had with him, said, "Let me show you my peeper." The newscasters erupted in laughter.

"Taylor was getting into his hedgehog position and Robin was laughing," he said. "At the time, Robin was reporting a serious news story when she began laughing. She was new to the TV station, and I thought, 'She's done in this market.'"

She wasn't, of course, and she and Goddard later broadcast a 20-plus hour Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, when another Goddard gaffe occurred.

Goddard was inviting people to come to Stouffer's Tower City Plaza to be part of the telethon when he switched the first consonants of the second and third words of the site.

Goddard said those mistakes are called "spoonerisms" after William Archibald Spooner, the father of the play on words. The telethon spoonerism, Goddard added with a smile, "was the best."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

Facebook: facebook.com/mike.lesko.378

Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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