Bob Swanson
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Bob Swanson

Band Folk Children's Music


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"WJHL forecaster offers winter mix of weather, music"

Songs titled "The Weather Wiggle," "How Hot Is It?" and "The Weather
Riddle Song" permeated the walls of University School on the East
Tennessee State University campus Thursday as WJHL-TV weatherman Bob
Swanson performed his rendition of weather songs and told stories to the
kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.
Swanson arrived in his weather sport coat fashioned with sewn-on clouds,
cotton ball hail and red and blue cold and warm fronts attached to the
collar. Bob's nickname, "Stormin' Swanson," ran across the cloud on his
back to the delight of many.
"I'm impressed," second-grader Kari Workman said upon seeing the
weatherman's multipurpose coat.
Swanson explained to his audience that not only was he a weatherman, but a
musician as well and proceeded to break into his first song, "The Weather
Riddle Song." During this song, Swanson played his guitar and harmonica
"I started writing these songs, basically when I got the job as
weatherman," Swanson said. "As a part of this job, you must visit schools
and other organizations. The first time I made a visit, I had nothing, so
I had to find something to keep the kids entertained and their minds on
something while I explained weather. The songs just came naturally as I
was getting into music as a hobby at the time."
Boys and girls from Deborah West's first-grade, Mary Myron's kindergarten
and Kelli Barnett's second-grade classes ate up the weather songs as
beaming faces listened intently to Swanson's tales of weather and rain.
"It's So Hot," a song taken from a few of Johnny Carson's one-line
monologues, preceded the funny tune "I Don't Want to Go to School," about
a principal whose mother can't get him to go to school because he thinks
no one likes him.
Swanson challenged the student's memories by quizzing them on weather
instruments they had been studying. To the amusement of most, a
tricky-looking thermometer was mistaken for a clock, but the
identification of a rain gauge and an anemometer showed how much the kids
already had learned about weather.
"Of course, for older groups I use a slide show to educate the kids about
weather," Swanson said. "For younger groups like the one today, you have
to be a bit more creative. I try to educate them with these catchy songs,
but I also try and stress the importance of public speaking and things of
that nature as well."
The local weatherman didn't disappoint the science teachers either with
his eye-popping, crowd-pleasing experiments. Swanson used an experiment in
which two, 2-liter cola bottles were used to make a water tornado as well
as an experiment in which steam funneled up through a vented box created a
cyclone-like effect.
From there, questions like, "Why didn't it snow when it was 32 degrees and
raining?" from first-grader Brent Parker and "When you predict weather,
are you sure it's going to happen?" from second-grader Elizabeth Mast,
were answered by Swanson until someone asked if it would snow tonight,
which got everyone's attention.
"There's a good chance for an inch or so," replied Swanson to the delight
of students, who filled the room with screams.
You can find out more about Swanson, his musical talents and his CDs on
his Web site,

- Johnson City Press (Ben Ingram, reporter)


CD, "Do the Weather Wiggle with Stormin' Bob Swanson"; track "How Hot is It?" has received radio airplay


Feeling a bit camera shy


Bob Swanson works as the weekend meteorologist for the News Channel 11 Storm Team at WJHL in Johnson City, Tennessee. He arrived in the Tri-Cities in March 2002, and now lives with his wife, Meredith, two cats, a dog, and a turtle in Piney Flats, TN.

If you don't happen to catch his forecast on weekend evenings, you may meet him during the week at one of his many weather presentations done for school and community groups. These visits often feature a severe weather slide presentation, several science demonstrations, and, most importantly, his self-penned weather songs, including "The Weather Wiggle."

"I think education is in my blood," Bob says when asked why he enjoys bringing his weather lessons into the schools. Perhaps that is because he has spent so much time in school.

Bob graduated in 1992 with degrees in both Physics and Philosophy from the University of Scranton in northeast Pennsylvania. He followed that up with several years of teaching high school science at Bohemia Manor High School in Chesapeake City, MD. He returned to the classroom in the fall of 1997-this time not as a teacher, but again as a student, entering the master's program in meteorology at Penn State University. Still in school, Bob landed his first television job as the weekend meteorologist at WTAJ in Altoona, PA, which in turn led to full-time employment at KHBS-KHOG ABC 40/29 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

His experience in Arkansas gave him a new appreciation and fascination with severe weather, as well as further education in severe weather forecasting. The frequency of severe weather outbreaks pointed out the importance of teaching severe weather safety, and Bob has also included this as part of his school program.

"I hope that I can inform and entertain, perhaps even inspire some students by showing that meteorology, and science in general, can be fun." An avid fan of bluegrass, old-timey, and alternative country music, Bob brings his harmonicas, guitar, banjo, and mandolin along for his weather presentations. "I tell students to pick up an instrument as soon as they can, as it can provide a lifetime of enjoyment." His musical abilities have certainly paid off for Bob-he sang his proposal to his wife, Meredith. They were married in Tupelo, MS on August 17, 2002.

Learn more about Bob and his music on his website,