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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Dick Goddard celebrates 50 years on air with book

6/30/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Dick Goddard, shown at the Pet Expo at Hardesty Park in June, will donate proceeds from his book to animal charities.Dick Goddard, shown at the Pet Expo at Hardesty Park in June, will donate proceeds from his book to animal charities.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
CLEVELAND — When Dick Goddard first came into Northeast Ohio’s living rooms 50 years ago, things were a lot different.

For instance, on KYW-TV, where the weatherman started in May 1961, Goddard spent hours every day hand drawing his weather maps in chalk.

“It’s a whole new world now,” he said of the computer graphics that are now commonplace during weather segments.

Goddard, a Medina resident, takes a fun look at his years as one of Cleveland’s most beloved TV personalities in his new book, “Six Inches of Partly Cloudy,” published by Cleveland’s Gray & Co.

“I was happy to do it,” he said of the book, released to coincide with his golden anniversary on the airwaves.

Goddard said he wrote down his memories and handed them off to Plain Dealer writer Tom Feran, who put them together in the scrapbook-style softback, which is filled with photos of Goddard and his colleagues through the years.

“Eighty-five percent of it is hopefully LOL [laugh-out loud],” he said.

In the book, Goddard spends some time reminiscing about his childhood in Green, where he recalls hearing a radio preacher denouncing the new technology of TV in the early 1940s, which just made it more intriguing to him. Still, a career on TV wasn’t something he aspired to have.

Following his high school graduation in 1949, Goddard enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He qualified for gunnery school but wasn’t interested. His other choice was meteorology, which he accepted, even though he knew nothing about the field. He spent a year in Greenland and later was assigned to a weather squadron at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

That led to what he calls in the book his greatest adventure in his military career: being one of six meteorologists to support the Atomic Energy Commission on the first full-yield hydrogen bomb test on the Pacific island of Enewetak.

Once discharged, Goddard enrolled at Kent State University to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree in his first love of drawing. He said he aspired to work for Walt Disney, and his book features many of his cartoons and illustrations.

Goddard played football his freshman year, but after he quit, he took a job working nights at the U.S. Weather Bureau at the Akron-Canton Airport to make some money. After doing some weather broadcasts on local radio stations, KYW-TV representatives called to ask him to audition for its news program, but he turned them down.

When they called again, his weather friends urged him to try, so he did, and he became the first meteorologist on Cleveland TV, he said.

He remained at KYW until 1965, when the Federal Communications Commission ordered the reversal of a station swap that had taken place a decade before. The result was that Goddard headed to the airwaves in Philadelphia.

“I was on the air three months there, and people were wonderful to me,” he said.

But he was not happy to be so far from home. He didn’t have a contract, and all three Cleveland stations soon were asking him to return. 

“Channel 8 had the Browns games, so I immediately said yes to them,” he said.

Today, at 80, Goddard still does weather for the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news Mondays through Fridays. He doesn’t plan to retire any time soon, he said.

“My 80-year-old knees feel like 90,” he said. “The rest of me is in good shape. I’ve been pretty lucky.”

Goddard, who plans to use any income from his new book for animal charities, said animals have always been a big part of his life. He’s used any opportunity he had on air to promote pet adoption.

“My station has allowed me since 1980 to do the pet thing,” he said. “I’m so pleased to see [channels] 3, 5 and 19 now doing animal segments.”

Over the years he’s produced a calendar that’s on sale at Discount Drug Mart and given all the profits to about 75 Northeast Ohio animal rescue groups.

“I can’t say enough about these animal folks,” he said. “I always say, trust the quadripeds. It’s the two-footed animals that are the problem.”

Goddard’s book is available at local bookstores for $12.95. Among his local appearances to promote the book will be July 30 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Learned Owl Bookstore in Hudson and Aug. 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. at Borders Books and Music at The Strip in Jackson Township.

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