There are a couple State Fair items that former KSTP-TV meteorologist Patrick Hammer would appreciate his fans enjoying in his stead this year, since he’s busy getting settled in Buffalo, N.Y., at WGRZ.
Hammer loved the State Fair, which is where I first met him. A turkey leg was his favorite annual must-eat. “The turkey leg was my thing. I had to have that every year,” said Hammer by phone, “and then the Blue Moon beer. Blue Moon was a restaurant right next to the KSTP compound. They have an awesome beer they pour there.”
Wait. He never went to Blue Moon and then to the weather map?
Hammer, laughed. “Well, given that I did the midday show from the fair, no. I waited until 12:30 p.m.”
Hammer attended the Erie County Fair last month. “I did find a chocolate chip cookie that will rival Sweet Martha’s any day.”
“The Erie County Fair is a big thing here. I was at the opening, and they told me that they went to our State Fair to learn how to get it done,” he said. “The county fair here is gigantic. They’re like OK, you come from the king of all fairs, just so you know. We go there to learn. Whatever Minnesota does we try to replicate.”
While Hammer may have found a worthy replacement for our State Fair and Sweet Martha’s Cookies, I’ve been to Buffalo and it’s no Minneapolis (or Twin Cities area) unless we’re talking Super Bowl losses.
Always an optimist, even after he was cut loose by KSTP, Hammer is already seeing the greatness of his new weather city. We were scheduled to do a video but he had to cancel, so we ended up doing this Q&A via the phone.
Hammer is also a fan of good grammar, so he enjoys my correcting TV news personalities’ language almost as much as some news directors.
Q: Have you entertained the possibility that your relationship with Rusty Gatenby cost you at KSTP-TV, because he might have been more in the doghouse than was obvious?
A: I love Rusty. He was a true friend. He’s a guy who’s hard not to root for all the time.
Q: What did not being able to get back to the meteorological map on a TV station as quickly as you planned teach you about yourself?
A: Humm. It taught me a tremendous amount of humility. I honestly thought my shtick would work. I feel like we had a lot of success in Minnesota and that it would translate to another gig and it didn’t. That was very humbling. The best thing that can happen to anybody in the media is to have the carpet pulled from under them and to learn that you’re not as good as you think you are and that you have to earn any success that you have. Even Dave Dahl or Jason Matheson, who have had success after success, would agree with that. Look what happened to Paul Douglas? Granted, he’s made millions. He didn’t reach success in Chicago. That was a very humbling thing for him, I’ve got to believe. That’s what I learned. Ego gets in the way. To be shown the door and then not to have the return investment immediately, it sucked. As I told you, I worked at Target and Jos. A. Banks. That kind of thing can be very healthy even though it hurts.
Q: Do you consider yourself, in the words of KFAN’s Dan Barreiro, a weather terrorist?
A: I got into a sparring match with him on the air. I called in when he thought that we were overhyping a weather event. I was in the car and I thought, “This has got to stop.” We’re not looking for ratings, we’re not looking for attention. We are calling attention to something that needs attention called to it. And Dan thought we were being “Weather Terrorists.” He immediately put me on the air with him. It was a five-minute back-and-forth that was really good radio. So no, I don’t think I’m a weather terrorist. Do I get excited about storms that are coming? Absolutely. Any time a storm we would call for didn’t materialize, I’d take it personally and was bummed out. I love Dan Barreiro’s attention to weather. I would fear going up against him because I was such a fan of his. I listen to him now regularly on my phone.
Q: What kind of questions did you have to field after the disappearance of meteorologist Jim Guy from KSTP?
A: Oh. Until my last day, our assignment desk manager would call me Jim Guy; it was a joke. It was at least a year or two years [KSTP would] get calls: Where is Jim Guy? The humble way I approached the situation was instead of getting mad at [that desk manager] I embraced that. I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had a few conversations with him that were awesome. When I started, as you know, nobody liked me because I was the guy who replaced Jim Guy and nobody knew where he went. He just vanished and all of a sudden I appear. That’s what was funny about it. And Rusty had to deal with some of that, too. Jim is in Seattle where I used to work. He became a guy I kept in touch with but I lived in his shadow for at least two years. In fact, he still kind of haunts me even now. I spoke with him when I was up for a job in Fresno, a town he used to work in; I had nooooo desire to move to Fresno. I called him just to say, Hey, what do you think? … I was on a podcast with Rusty a couple of months ago and Jim Guy came on with us. We joked about it. I told him, ‘Jim, God love you, but I had to live under your shadow forever.’ We laughed. I REMEMBER THE COLUMN you wrote about him: What’s a Guy to do? That was the headline. I’ll never forget that. That’s when I went WOW, I’ve kind of walked into a situation.
Q: Do you have a much nicer wardrobe for Buffalo as a result of working at Jos. A. Banks?
A: You’d better believe it. I kind of had to replace everything. My family had a clothing store in San Francisco for about 50 years, a men’s haberdashery. Working in the clothing store was kind of old hat. Not that’s it’s brain surgery but I knew how to do it in my sleep; I did it as a kid all the way through college, until I got into the weather thing.
Q: Compared to the Twin Cities Buffalo is an ugly city, but at least it’ll be hidden by a lot of snow.
A: I would say Buffalo gets ton of snow. I’ll never forget I was listening to KFAN when the Vikings came to play the Bills. The guys Cory Cove and Meat Sauce were just going, Oh, God, Buffalo’s awful, it’s a wasteland. And that was kind of my impression of Buffalo. Now I’m here and I’m wondering, “Were you guys drunk?” Is it a perfect city? No, but is it a city with tremendous potential? Absolutely. It’s very friendly. Very New York with some attitude. The food is unbelievable.
Q: Do you ever dream about a weather disaster?
A: What I dream about is that there is a big weather event that I was supposed to be in for and I overslept; one of those recurring dreams. As a morning guy I always would dream about oversleeping. And Keith Marler will tell you the same thing. If you don’t show up no one else is there to show up, which is one of the reasons you never truly sleep on a morning shift. You’re always worried about waking up.
Q: What weather events would you be most frightened to experience?
A: The 2012 Minneapolis tornado. The reason, if you’ll remember, we were fixated on Joplin, Missouri. Remember that tornado? That was the same day. It would have been far better covered if it had not happened on the same day as Joplin. That was a day that scared me because we knew the tornado could happen. Our chopper pilot was Ken Melchior, and we had the first aerial visuals; that’s when we could see the stripe of destruction from north Minneapolis. That is when we went, “Oh my God.” Almost as powerful as the shot he got of the bridge collapse.
Q: What do you predict for our future, weather-wise? “Hot, Dry and Crowded” says we’re going to have more extreme weather and more people fighting for water.
A: I think the outlook for Minnesota is for more attention to be placed on Minnesota as a bellwether of all things weather. We have the extremes in the country and the best people in the country to cover it.
Q: Global warming is real or imagined?
A: [Laughter] I believe that climate has changed for generations and that climate change is nothing new. Are we getting warmer? Yeah, maybe. But are humans the reason? To me that’s egotistical. Climate has always changed and will always change. Any big weather event that happens is just the variability of our weather. There will be extremes every year. That’s weather; welcome to it.
Q: Are either of your kids fascinated by weather or bored with it because that is what dad does?
A: Our son William is fascinated. They, my daughter Francesca, too, both have radar apps on the iPads they play with and they are both fascinated.
Q: You’re a relentlessly up guy, but you’ve got to be down sometimes.
A: Yeah, kind of have to be. I stay positive. Believe me, I had every reason to be non-positive over the last two years. But staying positive has been what’s kind of kept me grounded and on my feet.
Q: You feel you left town without some proper goodbyes?
A: Please, if you see Keith [Marler, Fox 9 meteorologist] or Mim [Davey, the Fox 9 news director], please say hello. I kind of left in a hurry and I feel I didn’t give proper goodbyes to everyone. I mean Keith, especially. He was like the first guy to call me, when I lost my gig [at KSTP]. That just tells you the quality of guy he is. I never called him and said, “Hey, I’m going to Buffalo.”
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try email@example.com and to see her check out FOX 9’s “Jason Show.”