Gary England still remembers well, around middle school age, running down to his neighborhood drug store, purchasing a camera and film, and taking off in search of his passion – even if that passion was a little scary.
“I think like so many other people in the business, weather was just in my genes,” says England, vice president for corporate relations and weather development at Griffin Communications. “I loved weather and loved when I heard storms were coming in. But I was conflicted, too, because it was always scary. I remember the first TV weatherman I watched, and I was always interested. I liked weather from a very young age, and weathermen made such a huge impact on me.”
In time, England would go on to become arguably the most trusted weatherman in Oklahoma, a state where weathermen often are thought of as celebrities. With Oklahoma City’s KWTV News 9 for 41 years, he earned a trophy case worth of accolades in the process.
England is recipient of numerous awards and honors, including three Emmys and the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Heartland Division. England is Oklahoma’s top rated television meteorologist. In 1981, he became the first person in history to use Doppler radar for direct warnings to the public. The author of four books and the subject of another, England is also a popular public speaker. Besides appearing in the Steven Spielberg movie, Twister, he has become a much sought-after consultant for weather specials produced by television channels from all areas of the globe. In 2009, England, his weather team and News 9 were awarded the National Edward R. Murrow Award for best in the nation in the category of Breaking News/Weather in competition among all large television markets.
For England, though, it was never about awards or accolades. “I love weather, and I’m concerned about the people of Oklahoma,” he says.
England’s new position with Griffin does not mean he has lost passion for either of those things, and he will continue his presence on-air with a segment called “Gary’s I’ll Keep You Advised,” focused on long-term weather patterns and events. As he describes it, England made the decision to step back from an everyday presence in many Oklahomans’ homes suddenly.
“After the El Reno tornados (in May 2013), I called my wife and told her to come pick me up. ‘That was it,’ I told her, ‘No more,’” he says.
So far, England hasn’t missed his on-air work much. “I suspect in severe weather, I might miss it a little – the chance to help people when dangerous weather is threatening. Yes, it is a high-stress environment, but it is also exciting, and I am constantly concerned about the safety of people. That became my real passion – the people of Oklahoma, whom I love.”