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September 30, 2008

Obituary: Somerset man best known as WJAC weatherman

Steve Richard, former longtime WJAC-TV weatherman, died Sunday at his Somerset home. He was 54.

Mr. Richard died unexpectedly, said his son, Lucas Richard of Hooversville.

“My dad and I were going to play golf Sunday,” his son said.

Mr. Richard resigned from WJAC-TV in August 1997 after almost 25 years with the station.

He then held a variety of jobs. He was a driver for Dunmeyer Transport out of Somerset when he died, his son said.

But Mr. Richard was best known as a WJAC-TV weatherman.

While attending Slippery Rock University after graduating in 1971 from Somerset Area High School, Mr. Richard became involved with the campus radio station.

Although he entered Slippery Rock with the goal of becoming a foreign language teacher, his experience at the radio station prompted him to pursue a broadcasting career.

He left the university, took some technical courses in radio and within months landed a job at Somerset station WVSC-AM working as a disc jockey and a newscaster. He stayed at WVSC about six months before moving to WJAC in 1973 at the age of 19, first working for WJAC radio and then, WJAC-TV.

He subsequently established his role as the station’s weatherman.

He initially presided over the weather maps when the station relied on the National Weather Service for its information.

When the station began using Accu-Weather, Mr. Richard suddenly had the backing of

30 meteorologists behind his forecasts. But there was more to his job than simply reading the forecasts from a teleprompter.

He once said in an interview with The Tribune-Democrat that the weather in this region is one of the most difficult parts of the country to forecast.

But his experiences with the region’s weather made him confident to depart from the Accu-Weather text, he said.

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