Everyday, hundreds of thousands of people check the forecasts to find out what the weather might look like for the day or for the week. Weather satellites and the information they provide have become an important part of everyday life for many people around the world. John Coleman, although not an engineer in the production of satellites, was a key figure in changing the way that the information these weather satellites provide is used in broadcasted forecasting. He also began his famous career as a weatherman right here in the Midwest!
Born in 1934 in Alpine, Texas, John Coleman was the youngest of five. He started his career in weather forecasting at the young age of nineteen, while attending the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. Coleman got involved with the WCIA radio station in Champaign, Illinois, becoming the early evening weather forecaster.
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1957, Coleman decided to teach himself more about weather patterns and meteorology, which he was highly passionate about. All of his hard work soon paid off when he obtained a position at the WMBD-TV station in Peoria, Illinois as a weather anchor. From there, he became the weather anchor for KETV in Omaha, Nebraska, WISN-TV in Milwaukee, and then WBBM-TV and WLS-TV in Chicago. Coleman had achieved his dreams of becoming a known figure in weather forecasting.
However, Coleman was unsatisfied with how forecasts were broadcasted and so decided to come up with a better way to provide weather information to the public. In 1972, he and his crew at WLS-TV developed the first green-screen weather map ever in use. Before Coleman and his crew, weather forecasts were routinely delivered through the use of hand drawn illustrations and cutouts. Not only did Coleman’s new weather map change how weather forecasts could be displayed, but it also allowed him to be the first weatherman to display weather satellite information on-screen for viewers to see. With this one invention, Coleman had reinvented the format of weather forecasting.
Following this revolutionary idea, Coleman became the first weatherman on the newly aired morning program, Good morning America, on ABC Network. He continued to work on the show until co-founding a new weather forecasting program, The Weather Channel.
The Weather Channel was established in 1981, where Coleman served as the CEO and president for it’s first year. He then moved on to continue his career as a weather anchor with WCBS-TV in New York City and WMAX-TV in Chicago before beginning his twenty year long career as KUSI-TV in San Diego.
In 2007, John Coleman became known as a climate change denier when he called climate change ‘the greatest scam in history’. He went on to state that ‘polar ice is increasing, not melting away.’ and that ‘Polar bears are increasing in number.’ These views have been pointed out by critics as wrong and misleading, drawing into question his lack of academic credentials and lack of any scientific research in the area of climate change. These views contributed to Coleman dropping out of the American Meteorological Society.
Coleman died January 20, 2018.