August 19 – Happy Birthday Tim Welch

Tim Welch on the SMI basketball team in 1966
Tim Welch on the SMI basketball team in 1966

Imagine if a degree in meteorology had always been a requirement for television weather reporters? David Letterman might never have been discovered and Willard Scott wouldn’t have been able to wish century-old Americans happy birthday. Locally, folks my age would never have heard long-time Channel 6 weatherman Howard Tupper greet his youngest viewers with his familiar “Hi ya small fry!” And today’s Amsterdam Birthday celebrant would not have become one of the best known Capital District television personalities during the late 1970’s and ’80’s.

Tim Welch was born in Amsterdam on this date in 1948. He went to school at Saint Mary’s Institute, where he played varsity basketball for Dutch Howlan and graduated in 1966. He would go on to get his Masters degree in Education from St. Michael’s College but instead of beginning his professional career in the classroom, he migrated into the media. By the late 1970’s, Tupper was ready to give up his role as the dean of local television weathermen and WRGB Channel 6 put Welch on the air to take his place.

Thus began a near-decade-long run of Weather with Welch, during which his well-trimmed mustache and his louder than loud plaid dominated wardrobe graced a majority of the TV screens here in Amsterdam both at dinner- and bedtimes. He was noted for being a bit unorthodox on air at times.

Tim as a member of the News Center 6 team.

On one Groundhogs day he dressed up as one and made believe he was emerging from a hole in a large snow bank to look for his shadow. In another report, he interviewed Santa Claus and asked the jolly old soul if any kid had ever been so scared of him that they pee’d while sitting in his lap. Once during a special drawing for a free Cadillac Tim conducted from the back of a platform truck at the Saratoga Flat Track, he announced the winner’s name and then dropped the card back into the truckload of over two million four hundred thousand cards. It took the folks at PriceChopper Supermarket, the sponsor of the contest, over two months to find the winning card again.

Welch was the first Channel 6 weather personality to venture outside into the weather while reporting it. In searing heat waves, near-hurricane-force rainstorms and bitter cold January frosts, Tim used actual weather as his visual. During his time at Channel 6 he also hosted the popular Answers Please quiz show that used to pit four-student teams from area high schools against each other.

In 1986, WRGB decided to get more technically credentialed with its weather reporting, joining the national trend at the time to use degreed meteorologists. Welch was let go.

He would then start his own PR and video production firm up in Saratoga for the next 20 years. He also got into teaching. His communications & media course offerings have been very popular with students at SUNY Oneonta. He also serves as the President of the U.S. Grant Historic Site near Saratoga and produces audiobooks for Audible.com and iTunes.

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