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The I-44 Meteorologist

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I need to thank John Farrar's niece, a local viewer, for the title of this blog post.

My wheels in January tore up the I-44 pavement as my commute increased from 7 to 220 miles. 28 hours spent in a car, 11 nights in a foreign bed, and split attention between the present and reliving my past.

Late December

I was just finishing up a shift covering News 4 This Morning, at KMOV in St. Louis, when my News Director called me and the Assistant News Director, into his office. My mind raced as I wondered about the purpose of the meeting.

Being a new employee, I thought it was going to be a performance review, for which I was eager to learn how I might improve and keep growing in my new role as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist.

I didn't expect an offer to fill in for my previous station, KY3, in Springfield, MO.

Back to October

As mentioned in previous posts, I left KY3 in early October after receiving an offer to work in my hometown of St. Louis. How could I refuse the call from KMOV and the opportunity to work at the station I had grown up watching and work for people I admired.

So, that first weekend of October, I filled a Uhaul to the brim and drove diagonally across Missouri to my "new" home in my hometown. I never imagined then I would be back Springfield, or KY3, unless it was for a visit, and never imagined I would take on the First Alert Weather mantle again.

I just want to emphasize, I loved my work at KY3! I learned so much from the weather team, and have so much respect for my previous bosses. I wasn't fired (an awful rumor someone spread), and I didn't leave with ill feelings. I just needed a change, and couldn't pass an opportunity in my hometown.

When my old News Director called my current boss asking if I could fill in for a few days in January, it was a no-brainer. Around the same time I had left, our weekend evening meteorologist had left too! The weather team, full staffed at five, was now at three, putting a tremendous strain on them. They had very few days off and worked long shifts to cover all the shows. They were exhausted, burnt out, and in need of help. I was anxious to do my part to help out and excited for the opportunity to catch up with my friends and previous coworkers.


January 2nd, on the three-month anniversary of my last day at KY3, I sped down I-44 to Springfield to help out my old market.

Seeing my old co-workers was like attending a family reunion while covering the shows was like riding a bike. If I didn't think too hard about it, I almost forgot that my job in St. Louis even existed. I had to remind myself over and over that the position was temporary, and I would be back in St. Louis for the weekend shows.

I covered the midday weather shows that Monday and Tuesday, and then made a quick turn-around to cover the Wednesday morning shift. I drove back to St. Louis that afternoon. My social cup was filled, and I was looking forward to sleeping in before my weekend shows. I was just planning out how long I would sleep when I got word from my Assistant News Director I needed to cover the winter storm moving in the next day and fill in for the noon show. While the thought of another day of work exhausted me, the adrenaline started pumping in anticipation of breaking weather coverage. Plus, I was anxious to see my KMOV family.

Even though my weekend was cut in half, I was well rested for my weekend shows Saturday and Sunday, and sequentially for the drive back to Springfield Sunday afternoon. I filled in again the following Monday and Tuesday. Then, I drove back to St. Louis Tuesday night and woke up for a 5:43 am flight to Oklahoma Wednesday morning. After the two-day trip to OK, I took another flight that got me back to St. Louis late Friday night, turned around for my KMOV morning show Saturday. Sunday I covered my regular shift, took a nap, celebrated my brother's birthday, then drove back to Springfield.

The three days in Springfield were jam-packed with work and visiting friends. The drive back to St. Louis on the 19th should have been exhausting but seeing my Springfield family gave me more energy than a Red Bull.

On January 23rd, I again packed my bags for my final week working in Springfield. Leaving this time around, was harder.

The anticipated exhaustion of the drive for this final trip led me to put off getting on the road. It wasn't until the late afternoon after I had worked out, showered, and cleaned the apartment that I put my foot to the pedal and began the 220-mile drive.

I spent the evening in the hotel room watching movies. An early morning workout session at the hotel gym and a great breakfast helped me feel prepared for the day ahead.

In many ways, I was glad this was my last week helping out. While I had enjoyed seeing everyone, I was longing for a consistent schedule. I used those last three days at KY3 to catch up with co-workers I hadn't had the chance to speak with before.

When Wednesday rolled around, I now found myself struggling to leave Springfield. I took my time at dinner with my friends, not willing to say goodbye to them again. It brought up the feelings I had felt months before when I actually did leave KY3 for my job in St. Louis. While there was excitement to return to work downtown, I knew I would miss the quietness that KY3 had offered the past month.

After an abundance of hugs and promises to visit soon, I got back on the road.

The chapter officially felt closed. It was time to focus. The February sweeps (An intense rating period for TV stations) were starting the following week. In addition, we were looking at a possible snowstorm hitting Missouri. I was ready to buckle down and get back into the grind.

St. Louis welcomed me back in true STL fashion. It's as if the market had been holding its breath all month long, waiting for me to return before unleashing the torrents. This came in the form of a snowstorm that blanketed the city with nearly 7 inches of snow.

It's good to be back.

*****Final thoughts*****

I wanted to thank my KMOV family for sparing me during January. I know that was a burden to the team and I appreciate their sacrifice.

I also want to thank my KY3 family for welcoming me back with open arms. I've been praying daily that the open meteorologist positions would get filled soon. It's an incredible team to work for, and I do miss them.

Finally, my family had to deal with my constant stress while I was making those drives. My mom became the dog sitter, and my sister made sure I had meals to bring with me so I wouldn't have to spend money eating out. 

Now, I just have to survive sweeps!

1 Comment Add a Comment?


Chris Cruzan

Posted on Feb. 28, 2022, 10:25 p.m.

I was eating breakfast in Springfield with my church friends and one of them saw you on the restaurant TV. "I thought Leah was now in St. Louis" my buddy said. I had to explain the situation to them and they were all then commenting on what a team player you are. :)

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