Tribute to Legendary WTOC-TV News Anchor Doug Weathers

On September 12, 2022, following a ceremony at the TV station, a Georgia I-16 Interchange, on Greater Savannah’s westside, was dedicated to legendary, highly-respected, and credible, WTOC-TV news anchor Doug Weathers.  I had the honor and privilege of working with Doug for about fifteen years prior to his retirement.  This was back in the day when news departments routinely strove for balance and accuracy in their reporting.  Area WTOC viewers back then were fond of saying, and believing, that “if Doug said it, it had to be true.” What follows is my tribute to Doug Weathers on the occasion of his dedication honor.  Doug was in attendance, and is still very active and on the go at age 90! ………..

 

In September of 1985, I was working at a TV station in Minnesota.  As most know, Minnesota has very long and cold winters.  Accordingly, in that state, as they say, summer is officially just one-week in July!  With another winter approaching, the Angel of Mercy grew tired of my weather whining, picked me up, recalibrated her GPS, and thankfully delivered me to Savannah and WTOC.

My second day in Savannah, I drove around getting utilities, etc. switched over to my name and apartment address.  At one of my stops, a very nice lady was helping me complete the needed information.  At one point, she paused and asked me where I was working.  I told her WTOC.  To which she immediately replied: “Doug Weathers’ Station!”  She didn’t say “That’s nice,” or “Is that a local station?”  Without missing a beat, she had responded: “Doug Weathers’ Station.”  Her answer made the station’s strong ratings numbers suddenly more personal, more real, to me.  Mind you, this true story is now 37-years old, and I still remember it so very clearly, because I was so impressed by her answer and the speed and conviction with which she said it.

No question, WTOC’s audience numbers at 6 PM were beyond dominant in those days!  In fact, much of the time during the 1980’s, the percentage of area (GA & SC) households viewing Doug’s 6 PM newscast each weekday evening averaged right around 70%.  That means 7 out of 10 area homes, watching TV at that time, were viewing WTOC’s News.  Doug had assembled a strong team at 6, with meteorologist Pat Prokop and sports with Rick Snow (perhaps others before I joined the station). It all paid off nightly with those magnificent audience numbers.

And beyond the exceptional audience size for his team at 6 PM, Doug also scored very high results with a form of individual anchor measurement know as Q-Scores.  This was a measure of an individual anchor’s favorability, positive perception, or outright popularity.  Doug’s Q-Scores were routinely so high they ran off the top of the news consultant’s graph.  And the consultants told us that Doug’s scores were among the highest for news anchors in the nation!

And while holding down the main anchor chair with tremendous success, Doug also served for most of those years as the station’s News Director!  Taking on the full responsibility for news department operations, hiring, and training; ever-developing station talent and abilities with staff members working in front of, and behind, the cameras.

Doug:  You were clearly the guiding light, and hands-on influence, for WTOC News from the time you became News Director and assumed the main anchor chair. Your lasting legacy is that you built and grew the exceptionally strong market news leadership position for WTOC that has lasted through the years, right up to the present.

Those Interchange markers in your honor, this state and community tribute, will be a reminder for so many each day, of both your anchor tenure, and your news leadership, excellence, and ever-solid credibility.

Congratulations, Doug, on this unique honor and distinction.  It was my very definite honor and privilege to have worked alongside you for those many years.

Back then, it was the power of your presence that made WTOC “The Doug Weathers Station”!  Sincere thanks for all that you have done, and congratulations again for this very visible and lasting honor, Doug.

From your colleague and friend, Bill Cathcart (August 12, 2022)