I was surprised last Monday when Sam Champion announced he was leaving Good Morning America to be the managing editor and host of his own show at The Weather Channel. There are very few people in the public eye for whom I am a “fangirl,” and Sam is one of the few. A blog post is the only thing I can think to give to someone who probably has pretty much everything he needs; a goodbye post was the only thing I could think to give my friend (and Sam’s fellow weather person) Sean Parker when he left little ol’ Tallahassee to move on to the bigger market of Memphis. Now it’s Sam’s turn.
One of my recurring “dream moments” has not to do with being in a throng of people in Times Square and getting a zillionth of a second with Sam; I would love to walk a mile with Sam and his husband, Rubem, with each of us dedicating our mile to a Charity Miles cause (just putting that out there, universe, okay?!). Not a big publicity thing, but a chance to get to know two people who are passionate about what they do and passionate about one another. If I got that fifteen minutes, here is what I would say by way of “goodbye to your GMA presence.”
You have been a “weather person” in my life for longer than your time at GMA. When I lived in New York City from 1989-1992, you were on WABC and I had a second job typing transcripts of tv news, so I saw a lot of you then. I also think it’s cool that your career trajectory took you through my hometown of Jacksonville, FL; my parents were so proud to announce that you had moved on to New York City. I have been a GMA viewer for as long as I can remember. Watching GMA is as much a habit for me as making the coffee and brushing my teeth in the mornings (and yes, I recognize this presents a conflict once you’re at The Weather Channel … I’ll figure something out!). Over the last few years, you have made every morning just a little bit better, between providing weather information (for obvious reasons I loved any time you mentioned Tallahassee!), feeding off the audience’s energy and making everyone feel welcome, and letting us into your non-weather-related life a little bit at a time.
Once you established a Twitter presence, though, things really got fun! As a viewer, I appreciate how much you interacted with us (and specifically with me!). A retweet from you was always a day maker, especially when you retweeted something that referred to a favorite cause (like you did with the picture I shared on Autism Awareness Day). I watched an interview (I think on the Queen Latifah show (?)) in which you said your “real” career dream was to be an international correspondent, that weather wasn’t necessarily your first choice or dream. Given that you felt that way, I’d say you’ve done pretty well with something that wasn’t Plan A — it’s nice to know that someone who seems so confident, polished, and accomplished struggles with the same questions as all of us. Speaking of questions, I saved a screen print of a tweet that I thought summed up a lot of what you have meant to us viewers. I think the original tweeter had asked why it mattered that Jason Collins made a public announcement about being gay. You could have ignored, evaded, or in some other way taken it personally. But your answer, “you just get to live without questions,” was explanatory, self-disclosing, and compassionate to the original asker: By the time I got through all of this, I am sure our fifteen minutes would be up. I just hope you know you mattered, to me and undoubtedly to many millions of viewers who needed a friendly face, an idea of which way the winds would be blowing, and a hearty unique laugh with which to start the day.
Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” You won’t be on GMA anymore, but this viewer will be looking for your sunshine on The Weather Channel. You’ve spent years proving that the sunshine will always be there and that #itsamazingoutthere.