BY JOHN ARUNDEL
It's tough not to hear Willard Scott coming.
Years ago in college I had an appointment for some career advice with the longtime "Today Show" weather man and ebullient centenarian at NBC headquarters in New York. I was sitting in his somewhat disheveled office on the sixth floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, waiting for Scott to come off the set.
All of a sudden, a big booming voice could be heard clear down the hallway, much like he megaphoned his warm baritone over the airwaves during his legendary "Joy Boys" days at WRC Radio, from 1958 to 1972. "Helllooo sweetheart!" and "Wow, that's just unbelievable...the turkey was how big?"
Willard Scott's infectiously buoyant personality has made mornings brighter for millions of viewers since he first appeared on NBC's "Today Show" in March 1980 reporting on the weather.
This weekend Scott returns to his hometown of Alexandria, where he was born March 7, 1934, to headline the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend as Grand Marshal.
|Neil Boggs (left), Willard Scott, and Glenn Rinker |
made up another news anchor team on WRC-TV.
The Boggs/Rinker show was solidly #1 in the
ratings during the 1970s.
The Today Show," will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Campagna Center's 38th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade this weekend. The parade, presented by The Campagna Center, the St. Andrew's Society, and the City of Alexandria, will be held this Saturday, Dec, 5 in Old Town.
"George Washington and Robert E. Lee...Boy am I in good company!" said Scott, referring to the Alexandria's historic roots. "Growing up in Alexandria gave me some of my fondest memories," Scott once told an interviewer.
But Alexandria is now a big city, and Scott, now 74, is not much of a city slicker.
He told me that day how "network wolves" were just driving him "crazy" and that the only way he survived his five-day-a-week gig in New York was by "walking around the block 10 times" after each show and high-tailing it back to his farm in Paris, Virginia (near Middleburg) each weekend.
These days, he performs his current duties as substitute weather reporter from either a cow pasture behind his house (utilizing a satellite uplink) or travels to the NBC Studios on Nebraska Avenue. He appears on the program on Tuesdays and Thursdays with his popular 100th birthday "Smucker's" centenarian salutes.
Scott joined “Today” after having performed similar duties, beginning in 1968, at WRC-TV. He's traveled with “Today” throughout Europe aboard the Orient Express; to China; to Australia; to South America; on a cruise ship along the eastern seaboard; to Rome during Holy Week; Hawaii; and to the heartland of America on the “Today Express.”
"I got the greatest gig in the world," he once told me. "Somedays I just can't believe they pay me to do this."
In addition to his weathercasts from state fairs, fund-raising events, parades and civic events across the country, he's anchored coverage of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1987, and traditionally appears as Santa Claus at several White House events for children. Scott also served as the very first Ronald McDonald.
|From left: Bud Kates (sports), Jim Vance, Glenn Rinker, |
and Willard Scott. Jim and Glenn co-anchored the newscast.
Jim Vance still works at WRC-TV some 35 years later.
He began his career with NBC as a page at WRC in 1950. At that time he was also a weekend disk jockey for radio station WINX in DC. He joined WOL Radio that same year and, with Ed Walker, formed The Joy Boys broadcast team, moving in 1953 to WRC-AM, and remained there until 1972. His weather reports were broadcast on WRC Radio from 1956 until 1972.
Scott has distinguished himself with his public-service efforts, and has been named both Distinguished Virginian by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters (1990) and Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine (1979). He also received the Great American Award from the Bards of Bohemia in New Orleans (1990) and was named Humanitarian in Residence by the National Society of Fund Raisers (1985). In 1985, he was recognized by President Ronald Reagan with the Private Sector Award for Public Service.
Scott is the author of six books, The Joy of Living, Down Home Stories, Willard Scott’s All-American Cookbook, America Is My Neighborhood, Murder Under Blue Skies and Murder in the Mist. He's a graduate of American University, with a B.A. in philosophy and religion.
He was married for 50 year to the late Mary Dwyer. He has two daughters, Mary and Sally, and is the grandfather of John and Sally Marie.