For Tribune’s WGN Chicago, August 13 is a special day. It’s the anniversary of the arrival of the station’s chief meteorologist, Tom Skilling, who on Monday celebrates 40 years with the station.
Skilling currently appears weekdays on the WGN Evening News from 5 to 7 p.m., as well as at 9 and 10 p.m. He also shows up on CLTV, WGN Radio, the Chicago Tribune’s weather page and across social media. Throughout his long career, Skilling has become known for his in-depth reporting, enthusiasm, passion and use of state-of-the-art technology.
As the video shows, Skilling also has left the WGN newsroom from time to time to report on the climate and on weather as it’s actually happening.
“We’re being chased by a tornado!” he exclaims excitedly in one clip. In another, he tears up upon seeing last summer’s total eclipse of the sun.
The station will honor Skilling’s 40-year legacy all day on Monday with tributes featured all day both on air and on social media under the hashtag #Skilling40. Viewers are encouraged to share their own memories of Skilling on their own social-media pages using that hashtag.
The day will culminate with a career retrospective video airing during the 9 p.m. news.
Skilling has worked as a meteorologist since he was 14 years old, when he started at WKKD Radio in Aurora, Ill. He moved into television at 18 when he got a job at WLXT Aurora. From there, he moved to Madison, Wisc., to study journalism and meteorology at the University of Wisconsin. From there, he went to work at WKOW TV and WTSO Radio in Madison, before moving to WITI Milwaukee from 1975-78. He then moved to WGN Chicago in 1978.
While at WGN, Skilling started penning a weather column in the Chicago Tribune based on his weekly “Ask Tom Why” weather feature on WGN News at Nine where he answered viewers’ weather questions. He helped to coordinate the WGN Weather Center, which combines the meteorology resources and expertise of WGN-TV, CLTV, WGN Radio and the Chicago Tribune in one location.
In the 1990s, Skilling developed a series of documentaries that explained extreme weather events. The first documentary, Emmy Award-winning It Sounded Like a Freight Train, discussed tornado safety.
He also hosted the Tornado and Severe Storms Seminar at Fermilab for nearly four decades. He currently is giving lectures throughout the Chicago area about the dangers of climate change, alongside renowned experts, including Nobel Prize-winning scientists.