Advertisement

‘Just no other choice.’ WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas passes the torch to Al Conklin

WBTV’s Molly Grantham sat down earlier this week with both of them to talk about memories, their jobs, and each other.
WBTV’s Molly Grantham sat down earlier this week with both of them to talk about memories, their jobs, and each other.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:57 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - WBTV’s Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas is retiring on Christmas Eve after being a part of the WBTV fabric for 33 years, and our Chief the past 29.

He’s now passing the baton to our current morning meteorologist, Al Conklin.

Al has been with WBTV for nearly 29 years and Eric helped hire him.

WBTV’s Molly Grantham sat down earlier this week with both of them to talk about memories, their jobs, and each other.

Al said on his first day with WBTV, back in 1993, Eric was already, on day one, exploding with personality.

WATCH THE FULL RAW INTERVIEW:

WBTV’s Molly Grantham sat down earlier this week with both of them to talk about memories, their jobs, and each other.

Al: “Eric’s out there with everything short of a marching band and I thought, this is gonna be fun. I’ve always said, Eric is who he is. And what you see is what you get. He’s the real deal. I try to apply the same things. I think I’ve learned that from you.”

Eric: “Oh, I knew years before I was going to make this decision that this guy was going to be my successor. I mean, there was just no other choice. I mean, you know, he has been here for 29 years.”

Molly: “When you’re asked, ‘What is your job?’, what do you say?”

Al: “I look at myself as a servant. Yeah, and I don’t really pay much attention to our stock price. I listen to our management, I listen to feedback from our consultants, but at the end of the day, for me, it’s about viewers. They allow us into their homes each and every morning, or in your case each and every evening, and so that in itself is a privilege to be allowed into someone’s home.”

Eric: “As Al said, I have the exact same servant mentality. The most poignant memory I ever have when it comes to saving lives it was New Year’s Eve. I was at PF Chang’s with my family of five. And a man came up to me and he said, ‘Eric, I just want to thank you. You literally saved my mother’s life with that tornado warning. She got to the basement and she’s alive today and he bought our entire family’s meal for that. And I thought, ‘Wow, he’s not kidding.’”

Al: “I mean, we can make 1,000 mostly sunny forecasts, but there’s really only three or four probably in a year that really means something to people. I think about the 2002 ice storm, I think about Hurricane Floyd. I think about you know when Tropical Storm Danny came through.”

Eric: “I mean, yeah, there have just been unbelievable events. Obviously, Hugo. We always talk about Hugo.”

Al: “And when something like that happens, you know, you sort of sit back a little bit and go, ‘This is what it’s really all about.’”

Molly: “One of the biggest questions I get asked and I wonder if you guys do too, is, ‘All you all really friends?’

Al: “Oh, no doubt.”

Eric: “Wholeheartedly.”

Al: “We can look at the same set of model data and go, ‘Well my conclusion is a little bit different than yours…’ But I think the great thing is that we have always been able to reconcile those differences… …And I think that’s where I think that trust comes in overtime.”

Eric: “You know we have our strengths and weaknesses and I think actually, I think Al will be a great advocate for the weather department. So I foresee, you know, him really… you know, I would come to work and chop wood and try to lead by example. But Al is great at pushing for the next greatest, next best thing.”

Al: “I think Eric has set the table here. He’s leaving us in good shape. You know, a lot of times you hear about a football coach or a football program and someone is fired or decides to retire and they go, ‘Well, this is going to be a 3-year rebuild. We’re not in rebuild. We’re strong. We’ve put together a great staff. And we’re certainly going to miss Eric and his experience and his leadership, but I feel a high level of confidence with the folks that we have coming in, I think we’ve made some great hires.”

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.