Cindy Fitzgibbon becomes Boston’s first female chief broadcast meteorologist

Cindy Fitzgibbon, WCVB Chief Meteorologist (Photo provided by WCVB Channel 5)

Cindy Fitzgibbon has made history in Boston’s television news business. After 27 years in the industry, she was promoted to Chief Meteorologist at WCVB channel 5.

“It’s a great honor,” Fitzgibbon said. “It’s something I never thought I’d see.”

Fitzgibbon, an Armenian American and New England native, sat down with the Weekly for a virtual interview nearly a week into her new role leading the station’s StormTeam 5. Behind her was a bustling newsroom preparing for the midday show.

His day had started at 1:44 a.m. amid heavy downpours overnight. Fitzgibbon said she allowed herself two presses of the snooze button on her iPhone before preparing to walk out and into Needham’s newsroom. During her short commute, she is on the phone with her producer EyeOpener, who is busy preparing the summary for the live newscast which begins at 4:30 a.m. Fitzgibbon, who appears on the air every five to ten minutes, creates and updates its own weather graphics. throughout the fast-paced newscast, which ends at 7 a.m. Then she does live cuts for ABC’s Good Morning America until nine o’clock. After a team meeting at 9:30 a.m., Fitzgibbon returns to the camera for promos and the midday newscast. She is no longer on the air at 12:30 p.m. and devotes the rest of her day to her family.

“[My kids] grew up with their weather mom who gets up and goes to work in the middle of the night, but I’m available. I’m around. I am present. I’m involved in what they do,” said the proud mom of two high school athletes. “I stay up as late as possible with them before having to go to bed to prepare for the next day. It’s the best of both worlds. I can do both.

WCVB announced Fitzgibbon’s promotion following the retirement of veteran meteorologist Harvey Leonard. Fitzgibbon is Boston’s first female chief meteorologist, an important chapter in her career and a celebration of women in the field of broadcast meteorology. In 2018, the American Meteorological Society, of which Fitzgibbon is a member, studied the underrepresentation of female meteorologists in leadership positions. Researchers found that women make up 29% of all broadcast meteorological positions, but only 8% claim the title of chief.

“Traditionally a chief meteorologist is male, and traditionally the chief meteorologist works nights Monday to Friday. It’s kind of like it’s always been,” Fitzgibbon explained. “This is clearly no longer the norm. It was just slow coming to Boston. Finally, we have our first female chief meteorologist in this market. »

Decades before breaking barriers in Boston, Fitzgibbon was just a young girl growing up near Portland, Maine with one eye to the sky. “I was always very curious about the weather and was obsessed with snow,” she said. Fitzgibbon even kept a log of snow measurements that she shared with her disinterested friends. “If there had been something like social media and Twitter, I’m sure I would have sent those amounts to the local meteorologist,” she said.

A week after graduating from Lyndon State College in Vermont in 1995, Fitzgibbon packed his bags for his first on-air job in Bismarck, North Dakota. “I was as green as possible,” recalls Fitzgibbon, who at age 21 became the market’s first certified meteorologist. It will soon pass in 1996 to WPTZ (Burlington, Vermont-Plattsburgh, New York Market), where they were starting a brand new morning show. Four years later, she traveled to the Sunshine State and became the first female meteorologist to graduate at WBBH in Fort Myers, Florida.

Fitzgibbon would eventually travel up the east coast of New England, where she would begin her decades-long career in the Boston market, delivering her morning forecasts to WFXT (Boston 25) and now WCVB Channel 5.

“Time is tough here in New England. It’s a job I’ve been trying to perfect for 20 years in this market,” she says. “You’re always learning as a forecaster, but the more time you spend forecasting in an area, the better you get.”

Along with weather and motherhood, Fitzgibbon is also passionate about her Armenian heritage. A descendant of genocide survivors, Fitzgibbon has fond memories of growing up with her Armenian aunts and cousins. She remembers her maternal grandmother speaking Armenian with her and teaching her the language. “It’s important to me that my kids recognize their heritage and know what it means,” Fitzgibbon said.

During the 2020 Artsakh War, Fitzgibbon helped raise awareness on social media of the atrocities taking place in his homeland. “I felt compelled to release it to a wider audience that maybe didn’t know about it,” she explained. “There was a part of me that was touched, and I wanted to share my Armenian heritage and share what was going on to bring more attention to him to an audience that might not know it.”

Fitzgibbon is a frequent headliner of events organized by the Armenian Heritage Park, and she is also a member of the advisory board for the Armenian Association for Women’s Welfare (AWWA).

Boston viewers can continue to rely on Fitzgibbon as WCVB’s Chief Meteorologist to provide accurate and informative forecasts to start their day. Fitzgibbon says she is also thrilled to lead a Hearst Television initiative called “Planning Our Future” with special coverage focusing on the impacts of climate change on local communities.

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian is the deputy editor of the Armenian Weekly. She graduated from UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced local and network television news, including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.

Leeza Arakelian
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