“Just no other choice. WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas passes the torch to Al Conklin


CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – WBTV Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas is retiring on Christmas Eve after being a part of the WBTV fabric for 33 years, and our Chief for 29 years.

He’s now passing the baton to our current morning meteorologist, Al Conklin.

Al has worked for WBTV for almost 29 years and Eric helped hire him.

WBTV’s Molly Grantham sat down with the two earlier this week to talk about their memories, their jobs and each other.

Al said that on his first day with WBTV in 1993, Eric was already on the first day exploding in personality.


Al: “Eric is over there with everything but a marching band and I thought it was going to be fun. I always said, Eric is who he is. And what you see is what you get. He is the real deal. I try to apply the same things. I think I learned that from you.

Eric: “Oh, I knew years before I was going to make this decision that this guy was going to be my successor. I mean, there was just no other choice. I mean, you know, he’s been here for 29 years.

Molly: “When you are asked ‘What is your job? », What do you answer? “

Al: “I consider myself a servant. Yeah, and I don’t really pay attention to our actions. I listen to our management, I listen to the feedback from our consultants, but at the end of the day, for me, it’s about viewers. They allow us to enter their home every morning, or in your case every evening, and so it is in itself a privilege to be allowed into someone’s house.

Eric: “As Al said, I have exactly the same servant mentality. The most poignant memory I have when it comes to saving lives was New Years Eve. I was at home. PF Chang with my family of five. And a man came up to me and said, ‘Eric, I just want to thank you. You literally saved my mother’s life with that tornado warning. She came to the basement and she’s alive today and he bought our whole family’s meal for that. And I was like, ‘Wow, he’s not kidding.’ “

Al: “I mean, we can do 1,000 mostly sunny predictions, but there’s really only three or four probably a year that really mean anything to people. I think of the ice storm of 2002, I think of Hurricane Floyd. I think you know when Tropical Storm Danny passed.

Eric: “I mean, yeah, there were just some amazing events. Obviously, Hugo. We’re still talking about Hugo.

Al: “And when something like that happens, you know, you just sit down a bit and you’re like, ‘This is really what it is. “”

Molly: “One of the biggest questions I get asked and I wonder if you too is, ‘Are you all really friends?’

Al: “Oh, without a doubt.

Eric: “With all my heart.”

Al: “We can look at the same model data set and say, ‘Well my conclusion is a little different from yours…’ But I think the great thing is that we’ve always been able to reconcile these differences…… And I think where I think the confidence comes from working overtime.

Eric: “You know we have our strengths and our weaknesses and I think I actually think Al will be a big supporter of the weather service. So I plan, you know, him really… you know I would come to work and cut wood and try to lead by example. But Al is good at pushing the next best, the next best thing. “

Al: “I think Eric set the table here. It leaves us in good shape. You know, a lot of times you hear about a soccer coach or a soccer program and someone gets laid off or decides to retire and they’re like, “Well that’s going to be a 3 year rebuild. We are not in reconstruction. We are strong. We have assembled a great staff. And Eric will definitely be missed, his experience and his leadership, but I feel a high level of trust with the people that we have, I think we made some good hires.

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