HOTSEAT- Calm and cool: Sprouse 'stormin' in name only
Viewers may think he's pointing to a ridge of high pressure moving through the midwest, but the fact is that weatherman Norm– aka "Stormin' Norman"– Sprouse is really pointing at nothing. In the NBC29 studios, where Sprouse has been the weather guru since 1990, the wall behind him is blank, and instead of cameras, he's scanning three TV screens.
'"They're on either side of me, with one in front," he explains. "So I see myself, and what's going on here and across the country– but not what viewers see."
Sprouse has no degree in meteorology, and that's actually the norm for more TV weathermen than just Norm. And while he's content with the title of "weather guy," he hadn't always wanted to be a precipitation soothsayer.
"I was a disc jockey for 20 years, including eight years at WCHV here in town," says the 57-year-old Fluvanna County resident. "I played all kinds of music, from classical to jazz, but I did other stuff as well, weather being one of them."
Economics figured into his switch from radio to TV.
"There's not much money in radio," he says. "While I was working for a station in Harrisonburg, I heard about a job opening up at Channel 29 doing weather exclusively, so I took it."
He didn't reckon on the hours. In order to get to station in time for the early show, the Richmond native says he goes to bed between 7 and 9pm.
While his routine doesn't lend itself to nights out on the town, his job lends itself to going out into the wind, rain, and snow. Why do that when anyone can see what's falling by looking out the window?
"We need to be outside because that makes for good TV," Sprouse says with his trademark wry grin. "You know the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words? It's just part of the job; people expect it."
Sprouse notes that bad weather is great for the station's ratings: "We get a big boost in, say, February."
As for the chit-chat between him and the others at the anchor desk, Sprouse says none is rehearsed. "I'm lucky because I've always liked the people I exchange small talk with. And even if I didn't," he notes, "I would be able to cope for the short period of time we're on."
Sprouse believes that the information he provides is important, not just for kids and their parents who need to know whether schools will be open, but, he says, for "construction workers, farmers, those who want to know what to wear. Weather is important to the daily lives of people everywhere."
He admits he likes being called "Stormin' Norman"– a nickname that began when he was a teenager, long before he came into broadcasting. Does he ever dream of a different career?
"Ask me that in 20 years," he says. "Right now, I'm content."
Why here? Job and family
What's worst about living here? Traffic and high cost of living
Favorite hangout? Coastal North Carolina
Most overrated virtue? None. They're all good.
People would be surprised to know: I chose the first song 3WV ever played: Moody Blues, "Question"
What would you change about yourself? I'd be less shy.
Proudest accomplishment? I've managed to stay in broadcasting for over 35 years.
People find most annoying about you: My knowledge of trivia
Whom do you admire? Firefighters, rescue squad personnel, police officers
Favorite book? The magic of Thinking Big
Subject that causes you to rant? Left lane bandits
Biggest 21st-century thrill? The Internet
Biggest 21st-century creep out? The Internet
What do you drive? 2003 Dodge Dakota and a 1999 Subaru
In your car CD player right now: AC/DC, Pure Prairie League, ZZ Top, Leo Kottke, and new Eric Clapton/J.J. Cale CD (excellent !)
Next journey? To New York City to see Les Paul play
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? I'll never tell
Regret: One particular girlfriend, "the one that got away"
Favorite comfort food: Steamed dumplings
Always in your refrigerator: Half & half
Must-see TV: The Daily Show, Monk, Good Eats
Favorite cartoon: Family Guy
Describe a perfect day. Beach, surf rod, sunshine, and warm temperatures
Walter Mitty fantasy: To race sports cars
Who'd play you in the movie? Howard Hesseman (WKRP's Dr. Johnny Fever)
Most embarrassing moment? See "most trouble" question
Best advice you ever got? Just be yourself
Favorite bumper sticker? "I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy."
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO