Real People

Email to Betsy Kling from Linda: “Where are you Betsy? It seems that you have been missing from the 6 o’clock news more than {you’ve been} on these past few weeks, and you are missing again tonight. We miss you.”

Betsy Kling of WKYC-TV is popping up all over facebook today, the “First Forecast,” literally, of her return to the airwaves. And Bill and I are so glad to have her back.

As WKYC-TV’s chief meteorologist, Betsy returns after what feels like a summer-long hiatus. We were getting worried she wouldn’t come back at all, perhaps be spirited away by Al Roker’s “Weather Channel” or maybe by “Good Morning America” (where she would fit in beautifully). We considered organizing a “Bring Betsy Back” protest that could air on competing stations. And I have to say, it’s been tough without our daily Betsy-Weather-Fix. We rely on her forecast; no one else will do – no one else can do Betsy.

This image shows Hurricane Betsy in the Gulf o...

This image shows Hurricane Betsy in the Gulf of Mexico in September of 1965 as taken by the weather satellite. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, she really, really knows her subject. And she does an exceptional job of explaining the weather and how it might be impacted by the “what will happen if…” options of current weather patterns, what it all means for travel, getting to work, going to the Browns games. You can also rely on her to be as accurate as this, at times inexact, science allows, given the sometimes fickle nature of the weather itself – case I point, Dick Goddard’s “six inches of partly cloudy” which became Goddard’s memoir of that same title.

In short, we’ve come to trust her (and anyway, Dick Goddard’s just not as cute as she is, not quite as perky either).

And if the trust and cuteness factors aren’t enough, Betsy is brimming over with personality – a crucial ratings plus in the television business. Overdoing personality, though, may have just the opposite affect, bringing out that proverbial “hook” right quick, but Betsy has good instincts. I think she must be a great mother, too. She’s got a lucky little girl.

In case you’re wondering about the genesis of all the praise I’m heaping on her – no, Betsy and I are not related in any way, nor friends of long-standing (or short-standing, for that matter, as we have never met or talked on the phone or anything, except for last week’s email), nor are we about to meet at some mutual acquaintance’s wedding, child’s bar mitzvah, baby’s baptism, or even stumble into each other at the West Side Market. And I will definitely not be the person standing behind her across the roadway when she gets stuck out in the first snowstorm of the season, battling the wind and ice because someone at the station thinks it would make a good shot as she delivers the obvious forecast. Where do they come up with these stupid ideas?

In short, we missed her.

Betsy is what I like to call a “real person,” and in my opinion, there aren’t enough of them around.

People are so often afraid to speak up, afraid of what others might think of them, afraid – maybe – to be tossed out on their ears (pardon the cliché) if it’s discovered their opinions differ from someone else’s. Afraid to be themselves for fear of being ostracized for the perception of “difference” from whatever passes for the current “norm.”

The TV Betsy I know would not, I believe, be afraid of these kinds of scenarios. She doesn’t impress me as a follower, and I’m not saying she’d just throw caution to the wind, blurting out whatever comes to mind or behave in a questionable way – no, she is merely “relaxed,” saying what she thinks, cautiously if need be so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings – unafraid to be herself.

I love this quality in people. I have a dear friend who is quite outspoken. She is unequivocally unafraid to speak her mind or take a definitive stand with regard to her beliefs on any topic at all yet never crosses the line into unkind or pushy. I love this about MJ – and admire her greatly for it. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of having to guess what people are trying to convey as they dance around the right words without actually using them or tiptoe over the feelings of others to such a degree that they wind up saying nothing of value at all.

It was Betsy’s response to my email, her words delivered in her natural and lovely voice, that endeared me to her. They conveyed a sense of her genuine self – not just the exceptionally good chief meteorologist but the real person inside that meteorologist, too. They allowed me to visualize her gestures, her smile, see the meaningful twinkle in her eyes as she tossed a knowing look to the camera’s lens. No mask hides Betsy from us. Rather, there is a transparency there – one sadly missing in so many aspects of our lives (most especially in politics). It let me hear her voice and see her personality right there on the page.

Email to Linda from Betsy Kling: “I am here Linda. I worked a whole bunch of extra days earlier in the year and am taking them off (no OT for me). I’ll be back on the 15th : )”

Look at that. She inserts a little joke in her email using a personal aside, just as she does on the air. She even used one of the only two emoticons I know – how did she know I knew that one? It’s a sign.

We are so happy to have our Betsy back.

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