It’s 4:30 p.m., an absolutely perfect Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting in the ABC 6 Storm Tracker Center on Orms Street, watching meteorologist Kelly Bates prepare for her first news broadcast in nine months.
“I’ve been up since 4 a.m., I’m so excited,” Kelly says. Lively is a good word to describe it right now.
You will recall that Kelly left another local station (which will not be named) last August. Her tear-filled Tik Tok explanation drew a few viewers — okay, over a million of them — and generated a few dozen news stories, some of them national. We don’t need to insist.
Because now the fact is, she’s back. She will work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, making the weekend weather forecast. Three days a week, she will work on science stories. The days she works will be dictated by the story filming schedule. And she will replace the other meteorologists of the station if necessary.
So how did this happen? In March, a colleague suggested Kelly contact Allison Gaito, Channel 6’s new news director. She is from Barrington and worked at Channel 12 as Mike Montecalvo’s producer before moving to Houston to direct. an information station. “Drop him a line, they told me, maybe you could make some substitutions.”
The conversation went back and forth for a few months until May 25, when Kelly received a letter of intent. “As I was driving home to Rhode Island,” Gaito said after Kelly’s first show, “I sketched things out, my vision for 6. Kelly was one of the parts I needed, one part of the larger plan.”
Kelly is a little nervous as she builds the graphics for her show. It’s the same system she used at the other station, so there’s no learning curve. “Which beach chart should I choose?” » There are three choices. She settles into one with two Adirondack chairs facing the ocean. I agree with the choice.
Kristen Benoit, one of the show’s directors, comes in to tell Kelly how the show will go. “You’ll have a one-minute live weather in Block A. Then three minutes in Block C. And a 30-second recap.
Kelly nods and gives Kristen a thumbs up. To be precise, this isn’t Kelly’s first show on ABC6. It’s his first in 18 years. She started her career at age 6 in 2000, leaving in 2004 for her job at the Other Place.
She’s been working out at 6 for about two weeks now, mostly for training. “I did a show presentation last week,” she says as she continues her prep work. “It was a total disaster. I clicked a button to advance a slide, and it didn’t do what I expected. Now she’s got it all figured out.
She talks about on-air gaffes she’s made in the past. “Once I said we’d have some fog scattered here and there. And I achieved uneven means here and there. I caught it in real time and just corrected myself.
I think that’s part of its charm. Gaito agrees. “She is comforting. She’s professional, people know she doesn’t mess around. People trust him.
Gaito says she spent the last two weeks as Kelly’s secretary. “Delivering his fan mail, his emails, his texts, his calls.” A bouquet of flowers sits on the counter nearby. It came from a viewer, along with a note that read, “I can’t wait for your first show. I follow you on Channel 6. You so deserve it.
Kelly shows me a tweet from another viewer. “We should just put @KellyBateRi on the license plate instead. I feel like this is a design that everyone would agree on.
Kelly is amazed that someone organized a Watch Party for her first show at Shelly’s Come Along Inn in Coventry, “opposite the Iannotti Funeral Home”, she laughs. It’s one of Kelly’s favorite restaurants and Gaito sends a photographer for a live shoot as part of the show.
Showtime is approaching and Kelly is busy straightening her hair and applying makeup. She calls it putting on her weather head. I tell her I’m surprised they didn’t have a hair and makeup artist for her. “I’m a little shocked,” she said wryly. Then she looks in the mirror and realizes that she hasn’t finished one of her eyebrows.
Gaito tells me she visited a car dealership in Rhode Island when she got back. “He said, if you’re going to run a television station in Rhode Island, you should have Kelly Bates. It was as if he read my mind.
Gaito is at work on a Saturday, just to support Kelly. “You have Team A with you today,” she said in a brief pep talk before the show started. “I had sweaty palms all day,” Gaito said after the show. It wasn’t nervousness, it was excitement. “I visited a hair salon in Cranston earlier today. I dropped Kelly’s name to my stylist, and the place became much quieter. Everyone wanted to hear what I had to say about Kelly.
Gaito was grinning from ear to ear as I chatted with her in her office after the show. “Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? It’s brilliant, and it’s just the beginning of Channel 6’s comeback story.”
They let me stay behind the studio cameras to watch Kelly at work. She’s calm, cool, poised and the Kelly we all know and love. After her first break, she looks at me and gives me two thumbs up. She’s back and she’s happy.
She’s sweating as she walks past the green screen she’ll be using for her longer report. She wipes her brow and whispers to me: “I need a mopine.”
Once the show is over, Gaito comes in to give Kelly a huge hug. “It was good ?” Kelly asked. “Perfect,” said Gaito.
As she calmed down, Kelly admitted that she felt good about it. “I didn’t cough. I’m so happy with it all.
Kelly takes a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said with sincere gratitude. “It’s a gift, absolutely.”