This Is Only An Exhibition. This is Not A Competition. Please, No Wagering

When Dave took a few questions from the audience, Helaine asked about his makeup.

“My boyfriend is a weatherman in Buffalo…”


After 33 years on nighttime TV, David Letterman calls it quits tonight. He’s pretty much admitted to no longer being contemporary in this era of YouTube clips and Twitter memes. Sad.

I was a Letterman fan from Day One, back when he was a young stand-up comedian appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He was edgy and vital, always willing to bite the hand that fed him.

I was in Buffalo when Dave started in late night. It was a show we, an NBC affiliate, didn’t carry. Vicky Gregorian, our program director, heard my pleas to clear “Late Night” nearly every day.

It took time, but we did finally air him. My kvetching probably had little to do with it in the long run.

David Letterman autographed photoThe photo on the left was an early 80s gift from my girlfriend, Helaine. It’s an autographed Happy Birthday greeting from Dave, standing on 5th Avenue across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

David Letterman was so strong at one point I forced myself to stop watching! I was inadvertently doing my Letterman impression on-the-air.

Helaine and I first visited the show in 1982. Andrea Martin was a guest. Maybe July 11?

We’d gotten tickets through a friend, were brought in early, sat up front and schmoozed with Biff Henderson. When Dave took a few questions from the audience, Helaine asked about his makeup.

“My boyfriend is a weatherman in Buffalo…”

geoff-at-ed-sullivan-theaterLetterman answered her question, started the show, then referred back to his conversation with Helaine.

“Sir, Where are you a weatherman?” Letterman asked coast-to-coast.

“Buffalo,” I shouted in my network debut (voice only).

I’ve been back to see Dave a few times since. The latest was when Matt Scott invited me to the Christmas show with Darlene Love. Dream fulfilled.

I rooted for Dave when Carson decided to retire. Dave was shafted. Everyone knew it. Alas, the revenge we all hoped for, Dave beating Jay Leno, never came.

Dave was the cutting edge. No more. That’s the saddest part for me. He had it, but let it slip away. As a performer I work hard every day making sure my flame is always lit, my passion always there. Dave seemed to have given up.

Though I no longer watch as often, I will miss knowing Letterman is there. Like his hero, Johnny Carson, Dave will probably fade into the woodwork out-of-the public eye.

Dave is my hero.

You’ll Never Guess Who I Ran Into?

He was not hired for his chiseled good looks nor his “J” school pedigree.


My dad and I went to the movies this afternoon to see Chris Rock’s “Top Five.” The real story happened before we went into the theater. I heard my name, “Geoff?” It was Beth Krom.

Beth is friends with my Irvine Fox cousins and very active politically. Oh… and her father is like a god to me. No, really.

Whomever you grew up watching on TV news, Irv Weinstein was bigger! WKBW Eyewitness News dominated Buffalo television in a way impossible today. Irv’s newscasts normally beat the other stations combined. I worked for the competition. It was humbling.

Irv was known for his staccato delivery of alliteration laden news copy. He was not hired for his chiseled good looks nor his “J” school pedigree. Yet he was everything a news anchor should be, which is why so many chose to watch. Irv took responsibility for everything that hit air.

I ran into Irv thirty years ago as I was considering the offer that brought me to Connecticut. We were at Chef’s, an old school Buffalo Italian restaurant where he often had dinner. He took me aside and gave me some fatherly advice.

He didn’t have to. He was a big deal and I was just starting out. He was that kind of guy. The people of Buffalo understood this viscerally.

I walked over to Beth, who introduced me to her family and said her father would soon be there!

He looks great. He sounds great. He has lost nothing off the fastball. Like me, Irv ditched winter for Irvine.

I took this picture with Irv, my dad and me. I’ve never felt so tall in my life!

Do You Miss Buffalo?


I was just on the phone with my dad. We talked about the weather a little. He’s in Milwaukee where it’s 29 with a wind chill of 22. My office window thermometer shows 72.

“Bet you’re glad you’re not in Buffalo,” he said.

I am.

766 Auburn Ave   Google Maps

I lived here, at 766 Auburn Avenue (Google streetview link) in the third floor apartment. It was a beautiful one bedroom with no insulation and enough water pressure to take a shower if no one in the other two apartments was! During the summer we were woken by squirrel races on the roof.

Those who live in Buffalo do so by choice. Anyone who wanted to leave left a long time ago. There is a survivor spirit among the residents.

It is a really nice, liveable city. Real estate is very reasonable. Summers are magical. Winters are hellish.

Starting in mid-November a thick veil of low clouds descends upon the city. This is the beginning of the process that spawns Lake Effect snow. It’s convection, like bubbles in a pot of boiling water. It will remain mainly cloudy with a handful of exceptions until spring.

This time of year the Great Lakes are warm and the flow through the atmosphere cold. Warm air near the lake’s surface is drawn up, condensing as it cools. Clouds form, often dropping snow.

Lake Effect season begins suddenly. The start is when the potential for big storms is greatest… as we saw this past week. Once Lake Erie freezes the process shuts down.

Lake Ontario doesn’t freeze. Sorry Syracuse.

For a real Lake Effect event, winds must be aligned through the atmosphere often parallel to a lake’s longest dimension.

These storms are VERY localized. The physics involved in Lake Effect snow is very similar to summertime thunderstorm formation. In fact, sometimes thundersnow is part of a Lake Effect storm.

Think “thunderstorm downpour” of snow… except instead of moving on, the storm continues for hours or days relentlessly.


This graph is from East Aurora, NY. Under land use it’s marked, “Urban.” People live there. That’s over 30″ of snowpack with a water equivalent of 5″.

The edges of Lake Effect storms are well pronounced. You drive out of Lake Effect snow like you drive out of a summer thunderstorm. And these boundaries stay in place as long as the wind doesn’t shift.

No one can cope with this much snow. No one is equipped, even those areas that get as much as 200″ of snow a year!

“Yes, Dad. I’m glad I’m not in Buffalo.” But I don’t regret a day of living there.

Buffalo And The World’s Weirdest Weather

The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday afternoon. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?


The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday Tuesday afternoon. It’s my old neighborhood on Elmwood Avenue. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?

robhimself793: I’m about a mile from the snow band, I have very little snow, maybe 6″. Just a mile south and people have 3 feet.

You’re seeing one of the more interesting aspects of Lake Effect snow. It is VERY localized. There’s heavy snow just a few miles from where this image was captured.

Lake Effect snow is the product of convection. Heat and moisture are transferred upward into the clouds from the relatively warm lake. You can see that in this time lapse of Lake Erie, one of the coolest pieces of weather video I’ve ever seen.

Heavy Lake Effect snow needs cold wind roughly parallel to the lake to get going. The resulting storm forms slender ‘streamers’ which reach out from the lake. They are often just a few miles wide, with flurries at the edges and white out conditions in the middle!

Near the Great Lakes it’s possible to drive from no snow to 4″/hour conditions in just two or three miles! These bands can stay stationary for hours, or even days!

Buffalo gets a lot of snow each winter, over 90 inches! Because of Lake Effect there are heavier snowbelts south of the city. People in Buffalo scratch their heads why anyone would want to live there, as we scratch our heads over Buffalo.


Continue reading “Buffalo And The World’s Weirdest Weather”

My Co-Host Reunion

We’ve spoken many times over the years, but I haven’t seen Susan since Buffalo! I’ve been trying to catch her since we came to SoCal but our schedules never meshed. She is a producer on House HGTV’s House Hunter Renovation.


I had a lunch date today in Century City. Google said without traffic it takes an hour. When exactly is this without traffic time? With traffic this morning it was nearly two hours! It comes with the SoCal territory.

Lunch was good. Lots of interesting topics from an expert/friend.

As I walked to my car to drive back to Orange County I picked up the phone to text Susan Hunt. Susan was my second co-host on PM Magazine/Buffalo. She’s lived here on-and-off for years.

One show near Mother’s Day, Susan’s mom, Sis, and my mom co-hosted. Very cool.

We’ve spoken many times over the years, but I haven’t seen Susan since Buffalo! I’ve been trying to catch her since we came to SoCal but our schedules never meshed. She is a producer on HGTV’s “House Hunters: Renovation”.

Yes, I know. We all love those shows. The original has spun off lots of children. Simple concept. Well executed. Natural viewer interest.

When Susan answered my text, I drove right over. My trip went through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood before crossing the Hollywood Hills through Laurel Canyon. Pietown, House Hunter’s production company, is located on the Studio City/North Hollywood line in the Valley.

Wow — she looked great. I think the photo that accompanies this is truly indicative of how we both felt when we saw each other. It’s been a long time.

IMG_20140618_175213Lots of stories. Lot of reminiscences. Some updating on how, when and where life has taken us.

She’s leaving soon for four months of production back east. We’ll get together on her return.

The car’s clock read 5:03 as I pulled out of the lot. Two full hours to get home. Like I said, it comes with the territory.

Christmas In California

christmas-in-californiaWe received some great gifts when we got married thirty years ago. Most are long gone. Some were quickly spent. At least one gift lives on.

Bob and Terry were our friends from Buffalo. They gave us the artwork that hangs today over the Christmas tree. It’s called “Christmas in California.”

In Hamden it hung prominently above the fireplace. Here in SoCal it’s in the loft, our family meeting space.

It represented a goal… or maybe a fantasy. This year it’s come true. We spend our first Christmas in California tomorrow.

I miss wearing my red hat and tracking Santa on TV. I miss working so others could have this holiday at home with their families. I don’t miss winter.

Christmas in California is just as the picture shows.

We’ll be spending this evening with our cousins, then living the tradition of a movie and Chinese food tomorrow.

Have a great holiday. I hope you get everything you want.

Holy Crap Was I Skinny! Video Found As I Clean

PM Magazine/Buffalo hosts Jan Stager and Geoff Fox - circa 1980

Jan Stager and I hosted PM Magazine/Buffalo starting in September 1980. She was great. We don’t speak often enough, but remain friends.

Jan was from Kent, Ohio and had worked in Wasau and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Me… well, you know.

This episode looks to be early on, possibly Fall 1980. I had been working in TV a matter of weeks or months by then!

I was so skinny the Buffalo Evening News’ TV critic said Chef Tell should fatten me up! Suggestion taken.

Also, please note the hair hat. That is not what my hair wants to do.

Here’s the way the show worked. Sometimes you had local stories, but most of the time the hosts introduced stories ‘on the reel’ from other stations.

We’d look at the list on totally unrelated stories scheduled on any given show, then find a location that might tie-in to some or all of them.


That was the goal.

The connections were often tenuous.

For each story, which of course we hadn’t seen, there’d be a suggested script. We’d look at the script, find out from the producer how much time was allotted, then ad lib our ‘ins-and-outs.’

TelePrompter? We don’t need no stinkin’ TelePrompter!

30+ Years Ago: Friends With Cameras

Click, click, click. Shooting photos is no big deal today. The incremental cost is zero. That wasn’t the case in the early 80s. There was film in the camera. You paid for that.

Beside the cost you never knew good or bad until the film was processed. You paid for that too.

Tonight my email brought these two actual film photos from August 25, 1981. My camera toting, film buying, friend was Jon Wolfert. Jon is King of Jingles. The Wolferts own JAM Creative Productions&#185 in Dallas.

The two shots below were taken in the WGR-TV parking lot on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. I’m standing with my PM Magazine/Buffalo co-host, Jan Stager.

It was Sunny in Buffalo. Surprised? It’s true. Summer’s in Buffalo are bathed in sunlight. They make up for it starting around Halloween when the Sun disappears for the next 5&#189 months.

Thanks Jon. What a cool surprise to receive on this chilly mid-winter’s night, even though it was half a lifetime, forty pounds and one awful hairstyle ago!

&#185 – If you’ve never seen a jingle being sung and played, watch this. You will be astounded!

At Dinner: The Snow Dispute

This is what happens when you allow San Diegans (San Diegites?) to move east where there’s actual weather. They just can’t handle it.

Here’s a little taste of tonight’s dinner. Ann, Noah and I were sitting together at the Greek Olive. We were at a window booth looking out into the parking lot.

Noah: Oh my God, it’s snowing!
Geoff: That’s flurries Noah.
Noah: No, look it’s sticking. It’s on the cars. That’s snow.
Geoff: Flurries.
Noah: No, it’s really snowing.

This is what happens when you allow San Diegans (San Diegites?) to move east where there’s actual weather. They just can’t handle it.

Basically tonight is like early October in Buffalo. Live with it.

My Lake Effect Snow Story

The best way to explain Buffalo’s lake effect snow is with a little story. It was the day Helaine and I got our marriage license. Because we were getting married in Pennsylvania we had to drive to Erie, PA.

This evening at 4:45 the Weather Service office in Buffalo relayed a report from West Seneca, NY. A volunteer observer measured 32″ of snow from Thursday’s persistent lake effect snowband.

I wasn’t surprised.

Winter weather in the Buffalo area is brutal. The city itself gets ‘only’ around 80″ of snow per year. The snow belt south of town can get as much as 150″. East of Lake Ontario, closer to Syracuse, it’s even worse.

The area east of Lake Ontario is the “snow capital” of the east. The higher elevations between Watertown and Syracuse, commonly known as the Tug Hill Plateau, receives of more than 200 inches a year. In fact, the town of Hooker, located in Lewis county, recorded 466 inches of snow during the winter of 1976-77! – source: National Weather Service Buffalo Forecast Office

I lived in Buffalo from 1980 through 1984. I will never forget those winters. It seemed to snow nearly every day even if only flurries.

The best way to explain Buffalo’s Lake Effect snow is with a little story. It was the day Helaine and I got our marriage license. We were living in Buffalo. We were getting married in Pennsylvania. The closest place to get a license was Erie, PA, about 100 miles away.

As we left our apartment skies were cloudy. By South Buffalo there were flurries. We paid our toll and got on the New York State Thruway. We passed West Seneca in heavy snow.

I was used to Western New York driving conditions so we continued southwest on the Thruway paralleling Lake Erie’s shoreline. By Dunkirk the snow was back down to flurries. Soon we were in bright sunshine. I remember the skies over Erie being blue and cloud free!

We paid our money, showed our blood tests (another story for another day–blood tests almost kept us from getting married) and got our license.

As we headed back to Buffalo every bit of weather was in the exact same place we left it!

From Erie’s sunshine we hit flurries in Dunkirk. Over the course of a few miles the snow ramped up in intensity. It was snowing heavily as we passed through West Seneca then back to flurries by South Buffalo. I parked under cloudy skies back at our Gates Circle apartment where there was no sign any new snow had fallen.

That’s the power of Lake Effect snow: Persistence!

Lake Effect snow bands are often just a few miles wide, but within those few miles snowfall rates of 4 or 5 inches per hour are possible. The strength of cold air aloft and alignment of wind decides where the snow goes and its intensity. The wind needs a long ‘fetch’ over Lake Erie to be effective as a snow maker. That limits where Lake Effect snow can fall.

As long as the cold wind blows the snow can fall for hours or even days! A few miles often decides whether you get feet of snow or just a dusting.

There are only a handful of places in the world where this setup of cold air and properly aligned body of water exist. Buffalo and Syracuse just got lucky I guess.

My Pat Trinkley Story: Weekends at TV2 Buffalo

“When you called my name on the air,” he began, “my mother heard it.”

Uh oh. This isn’t good.

At WGR (and then WGRZ), TV2 in Buffalo, I worked with a guy named Pat Trinkley. Pat was our weekend director. He was young and, as I remember a pretty good director.

Unfortunately it was the weekend!

In television… and most everything… weekends aren’t staffed as weekdays are. The crew was inexperienced and overwhelmed. Weather was when they regrouped.

For a director and crew weather is the easiest part of the newscast. The camera is stationary. The meteorologist or weathercaster is running his own graphics. You can almost sit back and let it happen.

In Buffalo Pat only had one cue to hear during my ‘cast.

After working a map I turned to the camera and said, “Let’s look at the current conditions.”

Pat was supposed to hit a button and switch from my weather graphics to a character generator which produced the “Currents” page.


I vamped a few seconds and then, again, called for “current conditions at Buffalo International.”

I was new at weather. I could ad lib, but I’d ridden into a box canyon. Once you’ve finished your narrative and called for the conditions you’re stuck.

I tried once more then having received no response took two steps forward and squarely faced the camera. I probably stooped just a little which I do when I make a close approach to the lens.

“Pat! I’m talking to you. May I have the currents?”

It was awkward. What options were there? It worked.

I was upset.

I was already stockpiling airchecks hoping to spring myself to a larger market. This tape wouldn’t make the cut and that was what had me the most ticked. Opportunity lost.

I steamed out to the parking lot, got in my car and drove home for dinner. A few hours later I was back for the eleven. The six o’clock broadcast was behind me now.

I was in the weather area when Pat walked in my direction. Now I was worried. I’d called him out on-the-air. Maybe he was angry with me?

“When you called my name on the air,” he began, “my mother heard it.”

Uh oh. This isn’t good.

“She really liked that!” And with that he smiled.

I mentioned his name when I could. He never missed a cue again.

They Fired Joey Reynolds

Whereas most radio stations and disk jockeys had jingles cut in Dallas by Pams or TM (or now by my friend Jon Wolfert at Jam) Joey had a jingle sung by the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons!

Word came last night WOR radio let Joey Reynolds go. I can’t help but feel bad because Joey is one of the reasons radio attracted me so much and why I made it my career for 11 years. Though I lived in Queens and had both WMCA and WABC at my beck and call I gravitated to WKBW in Buffalo, a station I could only hear after dark.

Joey was having a party in the studio and I was invited night-after-night. As good as Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie and Gary Stevens were they were never as approachable as Joey seemed. I sent my self addressed stamped envelope off to Buffalo to get my purple membership card in the Royal Order of the Night People. I wanted in!

I remember hearing about Joey at other stations as his career bounced up-and-down after ‘KB. At one point he was selling jingles (or so I remember) made to be sung over the intro to records. There are some songs I can’t hear today without hearing some now defunct station’s call letters sung over the front!

A few years ago Joey went to WOR New York where he held down the free form all-night talk show. He’s still that party guy I remember with an infectious laugh that’s instantly recognizable.

Even in the best of times you don’t make money keeping a radio station on-the-air 24/7. Nowadays all-nights are a liability in an otherwise awful economic time for radio. Joey was replaced by a syndicated show–one host for scores of stations across the entire country.

Among the things I remember most about Joey is a jingle from his show. Whereas most radio stations and disk jockeys had jingles cut in Dallas by Pams or TM (or now by my friend Jon Wolfert at Jam) Joey had a jingle sung by the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons!

I’ll bet you I haven’t heard this in 40+ years–until now.

[pro-player height=”30px” type=”MP3″][/pro-player]

Explosion In Middletown

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

kleen energy plant.gifAround 11:30 this morning my house shuddered. We’ve been hit by flying branches in storms. This was different. There was no sound, just a compression shock. I got out of bed and headed downstairs.

Helaine was on the sofa. She perceived it differently from me. She said we should check the house. I opened the door and saw nothing. We went to the basement and garage. Nothing again.

The house shook from an explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown. That’s around 20 miles from here. Their website says it’s “in construction”:

620 MW – Siemens-Combined Cycle, ISO & FERC 345kV Interconnect Approved –Pipeline Delivered – Dual Fuel – Gas & Oil Fired – Water Cooled

Helaine said the shake reminded her of an explosion while we were in Buffalo.

An untrained worker was moving a propane tank with a forklift. The tank fell and the valve sheared off. The propane, being heavier than air, spread out along the ground.

From Wikipedia:

The North Division Street explosion was a powerful explosion on December 27, 1983 in a warehouse at the intersection of North Division and Grosvenor Streets in Buffalo, New York. The building contained an illegal 500-gallon propane tank whose valve was broken off while it was being moved and the building was evacuated. The propane started to leak and eventually reached an open flame. The tank exploded, killing all five firefighters assigned to Ladder 5 and two civilians; and damaging a dozen city blocks and causing millions of dollars of damage in fire equipment.

When it happened Helaine thought a car had run into our house! Within thirty seconds of her calling me at the TV station every phone in the place was ringing.

Right now I’m listening to emergency responders on an Internet delivered scanner channel. There’s lots of activity which seems well coordinated. There’s talk of victims and casuaties. It’s horrific.

I wanted to make sure Ann Nyberg knew about this. By the time I called her she was already at the station helping with our coverage. Stories unfold much more quickly now than in ’83. I’ve posted on Twitter and Facebook and the replies have been coming at a steady pace.

This is a tragedy.

Weighty Decisions

When Helaine and I started dating she starting baking. Is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? Yes. Well at least it was the shortcut to mine. Helaine bakes butter cookies tasty enough to bring world peace!

FeetonScale.jpgWhen I first started hosting PM Magazine/Buffalo one of the TV critics (there were two back then) wrote it might be nice for Chef Tell to fatten me up! May I please have that metabolism back?

I know I weigh too much because for the last year I have avoided getting on the scale (or looking at my 401-K).

As a bachelor I was totally disorganized. There was usually no food in the house. I could gorge on Hydrox cookies, when I had them, because I’d also go days without eating or minimal eating.

When Helaine and I started dating she starting baking. Is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach? Yes. Well at least it was the shortcut to mine. Helaine bakes butter cookies tasty enough to bring world peace!

We got engaged, she moved in and I began to eat well and on a regular basis.

Helaine is the best thing that ever happened to me. Eating regularly on the other hand has taken its toll. I’m close to 40 pounds over my Buffalo weight!

You might not notice my girth on TV because I buy clothes often enough to (mainly) fit into what I wear. Trust me–it’s there.

I don’t want to look my age. I also don’t want to be unhealthy. I am dieting.

OK–I’ve dieted before. It only works for a while because dieting is a treatment, not a cure. I’m trying to diet smarter.

My attack is different this time because I am going directly after the low hanging fruit, what I eat after I get home from work. Think cattle free range grazing!

I still have a little fruit at night but nothing that’s been ‘manufactured’. I’m also avoiding that occasional bag of pretzels I’d snatch from the vending machine.

The easy first four pounds are off. Now comes the more difficult part.

I’m never going back to my Buffalo weight. If I can lose another 15 pounds I’ll be ecstatic, but even 10 more will make me happy.

It’s in the mid teens outside today. Hopefully in another few months the warmth will return and Helaine and I will be able to start walking Sleeping Giant. You can’t exercise your way to weight loss, but it will help.

The Forecast From Hell

I suppose some people might make a definitive forecast tonight, but no one knows for sure. This is far from settled.

snowy-wood-pile.jpgThe past few days have been bitterly cold. Very unusual this early. It’s been an easy forecast to make. This Sunday there might be snow. It’s the forecast from hell!

All the computer models are pointing in different directions. The implication is there will be a big snowstorm. I just can’t tell you where.

Up in Buffalo, safely removed from this particular tumult, Don Paul threw out a forecast suggestion for us in the Northeast: “Accumulations may range from 3″ to 3′.”

He suggested we mumble that line and move on.

The models are seeded with real world data to get them initialized, but my usual favorite (GFS) has initialized with a poor understanding of a strong low in the Gulf of Mexico. Other models are forecasting snowfall in the multi-foot range. Are they any better initialized?

Our data is limited and often flawed. There are many places for which no data is received. I don’t quite understand how these models attempt to compensate for all the things we don’t measure. It has to weaken the model output.

As a meteorologist the uncertainty bothers me no end.

We’ve had a little discussion going on over at Facebook. Some of the talk is technical. This is generally a time when meteorologists talk it out. The scenarios are so complex it’s possible to miss something so talking is valuable.

In the end all our individual forecasts will vary a little. Most of the time most of us will be mostly right… and we’ll relax knowing we’ve dodged the bullet for now. There is no upside to being wrong.

After twenty five plus years these winter forecasts have gotten no easier to make. I’m sweating it out with you.