You may have seen the news on Tuesday that David Finfrock announced a long-term agreement with NBC 5 that will have him in the role of Chief Meteorologist through 2018. Finfrock also announced he will retire at the end of the agreement.
We posed a few questions to David about his career at NBC 5 and the legacy built by legendary meteorologist Harold Taft. Here are his answers.
What do you think about starting and ending your career at the same television station?
When I graduated from Texas A&M, I thought I would be working for the National Weather Service. And I envisioned an exciting future of moving across the country every few years, and learning the weather all across different parts of the US. As it turns out, I was offered a job by Harold Taft. And at 22, fresh out of college I started working at NBC5. It’s amazing to me that I will be finishing my career with the same station. That doesn’t happen very often in this business. It might not be as exciting as moving all over the country… but it is a lot more conducive to family life.
What do you think about the legacy of KXAS/NBC 5 when it comes to weather?
NBC5 has been on the air for 64 years. And we have only had two Chief Meteorologists. That is simply unprecedented in the television business. Harold Taft basically created the concept of television weather broadcasts, back in the late 1940’s. He was a true legend in the business. And I felt real pride (and more than a little trepidation) when he turned the reins over to me. I have always felt that I had very big shoes to fill. I could never be another Harold Taft. But I wanted to be a David Finfrock that Harold would approve of.
How important was the search for your successor to you?
Very important. As I pointed out, we have only had two Chief Meteorologists in our history. When I retire, I didn’t want to see a parade of weathercasters coming through and failing. I felt it was very important that we identify a successor who was really worthy of the role, and who would be committed to staying here long term. And I also felt that it was very important that we bring that person in several years before I retired. I wanted the North Texas viewers to become comfortable with seeing my successor on the air here, before he stepped up to the Chief’s position. And in Rick Mitchell, I feel confident that we have found that person.
Do you think Harold would be pleased?
Very much so. Harold was always a stickler for hiring only professional meteorologists with a BS degree in meteorology. He didn’t think there were any shortcuts to get into this business. Rick has that BS degree, but he also has 18 years of experience forecasting the weather as a Chief Meteorologist in Oklahoma City, right at the heart of Tornado Alley. Harold would have loved him. And Harold would also be pleased that I stayed here for my entire career, just as he did.
Even though it's still a few years away, what do you plan to do once you do retire, do you have specific plans?
I will turn 60 next year, so retirement had been in the back of my mind. But I didn’t have any set plans or timetable. At least not until last week, when management approached me with the idea of a new contract. By the time I retire in May 2018, at the conclusion of this contract, I will have been at NBC5 for 42 years. Coincidentally, that is the same number of years that Harold worked here. There is a certain pleasing symmetry to that. As for what I will do when I retire? I certainly plan to travel more. I have taken EarthWatch expeditions to Baja California, Easter Island and Mongolia in recent years, doing volunteer work on scientific research expeditions. I hope to do more of that. I will definitely spend more time working on my “ranch”. Like some of our past Presidents, I enjoy cutting brush. I don’t work out at the gym. I try to stay fit through physical labor, both at the ranch and at home where I do all of my own yard work. I hope to find time to do some more watercolor painting. And of course, I want to spend more time with my wife Shari, and with our wonderful children and grandchildren.