Weatherman Bob Harris Was Only Off One Degree, but the Mistake Nearly Cost Him His Career
A native New Yorker, Harris grew up fascinated by hurricanes and thunderstorms. After marrying his high school sweetheart, Judith, he took a variety of college science courses and worked odd jobs to help her through college and graduate school. Then, at 27, he began to feel life was passing him by. He presented himself to CBS meteorologist Gordon Barnes and within an hour was hired for a tryout. "Why I ever dreamed I could pull it off I'll never know," Harris admits. "Let's just say I had a combination of chutzpah and stupidity." Eight weeks later he went on the air as Dr. Bob Harris. "Nobody ever asked for credentials," he explains, "and I was thrilled to get the chance. Of course, if I hadn't known what I was doing I would have gotten caught like gangbusters."
Ironically, even after his dismissal, following an anonymous letter to his CBS bosses, no one questioned Harris' competence. Desolated, he made a public apology on the Today show. Then, unexpectedly, the Long Island Rail Road decided to retain him as its forecaster, and radio station WNEW offered him another chance on the air. "I could look at this with a jaundiced eye and say, 'They just want to hype their ratings,' " says Harris. "I prefer to think they believe in my ability." Today he broadcasts forecasts daily from his Oakland, N.J. home and appears weekends on local TV. "When I was fired it was like getting hit with a bat," he recalls. "It takes some people five years of analysis to go through the catharsis I've experienced in three weeks."
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