By Todd Outcalt Freelance Writer
Chris Wright, chief meteorologist at WTTV-TV CBS Channel 4, certainly knows weather, but he is equally knowledgeable of his place in the world and grateful for his ability to adapt to life’s changes and the vagaries of a career in television. Whether standing behind a camera or enjoying his experience as a husband and father, Wright has always been able to roll up his sleeves and meet life head-on.
These were lessons he learned early in life, growing up in Memphis, and from parents who gave him an exemplary work ethic and the values that shaped his future.
“My parents wanted me to be a dentist,” Wright confided, “and didn’t initially understand the full-time nature of being a meteorologist.” But what his parents did understand was the necessity of dedication and hard work — traits that would serve Wright well as he developed his skills, first in a background in computers and radio, and then as a meteorologist anchoring the weather segment on television.
As a Boomer, Wright also received early inspiration and mentoring from older news anchors such as Dave Brown, in Memphis, and Jim Tillman, who broadcast the weather from a Chicago news station. Wright also knew that he needed the challenge of Midwest weather. “The weather in southern California is essentially the same every day,” Wright pointed out. “It gets boring.”
Wright is aware that he enjoys a challenge. In fact, he notes that it is difficult for him to take personal days off — and if there is a weather event, such as a severe storm or a tornado warning, he is up to the challenge of working around the clock. This work ethic is all the more remarkable given the fact that Wright has suffered two heart attacks.
“I’m always willing to talk about heart health,” he said. “While I’ve had two episodes, I’m also taking better care of myself now.”
“I love to hike the Monon trail. I love to travel — especially to New York. I stick to my diet. And then my girls keep me hopping. Dad always has an activity or school function to attend.”
Wright and his wife, Megan, have three daughters, and Wright takes great pride in being a good father.
“We are advocates for adoption,” he explained, “and my girls have a relationship with their birth mothers, too. We’re like one big family.”
As a family man, he has navigated life’s changes and embraced his place in the Indianapolis market. “My first goal in this business was simply to get a job. When I signed a $30,000 contract to do the weather in the Cincinnati market, I thought I had it all,” Wright said with a laugh. But now, like many Boomers, Wright knows that career is about much more than salary. He can see himself working past the traditional retirement age of 65. “As long as my health holds, I would like to work and be productive into my 70s. I enjoy the work.”
Certainly, Wright has a vision for his life, which may also be one of the reasons why so many people in the greater Indianapolis area trust him with the weather forecast. “Weather is fun here in the Midwest,” Wright said. “There are changing seasons, and every day is different. I like that challenge.”
Because Wright has a long history in broadcasting, he has the benefit of the wisdom that comes with experience. “There are going to be changes in every career. In this business, we’ve moved from recording on Beta to video cards. And the changes keep coming.”
Wright also pushes himself to stay abreast of new technology and the unexpected. “In broadcasting, a person always has to be prepared. If the audio goes down, or a camera, or there is an emergency, that’s where we earn our salt.”
No doubt, one of Wright’s keys to success is his personality. He is a person of gratitude, and makes a point of encouraging others who have done a good job. He enjoys his co-workers and looks forward to coming to work every day.
Although Wright doesn’t consider himself a philosopher, he certainly has a philosophical approach to life. When asked about advice he might share with the younger generation, or with those looking to get into meteorology or broadcasting, he has a wealth of wisdom.
“First, be aware that there will always be competition. Intelligence can go a long way to overcoming the odds, but hard work is key. It is most helpful to love what you do.”
Indeed, Wright has embraced his life and his experiences with an easy-going manner. Just like the weather, Wright understands that long-range forecasting is difficult. One never knows what to expect on the horizon.
“I like the hunt,” he explained.
“That’s why I enjoy writing, too. I like writing about ideas I have to research, have to learn about. If I could, I’d write mysteries all the time.”
Wright has authored more than 10 books, primarily mystery novels, and enjoys the excitement of creating memorable characters and thrilling situations. But he also writes about heart health and offers personal notes to people who need encouragement or a pat on the back.
“Having goals is important,” Wright stressed. “But enjoying family and work — giving back — is happiness.” Maybe that’s why so many people trust Wright. It’s not just his forecast, but his composure and sense of deeper responsibilities that compel people to invite him into their homes via the television. Wright has already weathered many challenges in his life.
And he enjoys making every day a little better for others.
Read this cover story and other articles in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of the IndyBOOMER magazine.