NORM MacDONALD

We lost an important link to WILI's past on April 21, 2002. Long time WILI Meteorologist Norm MacDonald died of esphoageal cancer at the age of 77.

Few personalities in WILI's history have had a greater impact than "Uncle Normie."  Yes, he gave the weather, but his interaction with WILI morning host Wayne Norman was unlike that of any of the dozens of other forecasters who followed in his footsteps. Even though Norm hadn't forecast on WILI since 1991, listeners still ask how he (and his brothers) is doing.

Norm was an equally popular TV meteorologist in the 60's and 70's at WBZ-TV in Boston, who then moved to radio. He was WILI's first staff meteorologist when he started here on Halloween, 1977--we've had meteorologists ever since. His first big test was correctly forecasting the strength of the "Blizzard of '78."

We treasured his work so much that where Norm went, we followed. He left Weather Services Corp (Bedford, MA) in 1981 to start his own private company in New Jersey, and WILI was one of his first clients. And when he subsequently moved to Accu-Weather (State College, PA), we followed him there, too.

He had a unique ability to "personalize" the weather, and he wasn't afraid to use his years of experience in forecasting New England weather to offer differing opinions from the masses. If the rest were calling for snow and Norm felt there was too much warm air aloft, he'd mention snow in his forecast, but would add his opinion that he thought it might stay all rain. Our listeners appreciated that honesty. One of his biggest pet peeves was "arm waving forecasters" who make routine storms look like the Storm of the Century.

And on days when the weather was tame, Norm's brothers would visit our airwaves. Donald MacDonald was the stodgy Englishman. The Russian brother Igor MacDonald would take time off from his work at the Vodka factory. And Irishman Mac MacDonald would greet listeners with a cheery "Top of the mahning ta yah." Norm, of course, was Scottish.

Norm was a knowledgable and passionate baseball fan, who didn't live to see his Red Sox win the 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series.

After retiring, Norm did extensive investigations of the Global Warming hypothesis. He and his research associate presented their research to the United Nations in 1993, and he presented the same to a U. S. Congressional Committee. Over his professional career, he had three dozen formal publications in scientific journals. He was a staff meteorologist invited on two scientific trips to observe total solar eclipses.

While Norm smoked for years, his terminal cancer stemmed from his work predicting weather for the H-Bomb project, and the U. S. Government has admitted as much. Norm was first diagnosed with cancer in 1991, which ended his on-air radio career. But despite one doctor's opinion that he wouldn't survive that initial bout, he lasted eleven more good years with his loving wife Carol until a recurrence in September 2001 began to spread rapidly.

He made our airwaves a better place, and the outpouring of sadness from our listeners at the news of his death was testimony to the number of lives he impacted.

Wayne Norman, April 2002

To learn more about Norm MacDonald, visit these links:

Boston Globe Obituary

A tribute by Accu-Weather's Joe Lundberg, who replaced Norm on WILI in 1991

Foster Daily Democrat (Dover, NH) obituary

Norm MacDonald's website

Norm MacDonald in the WILI's old air studio (948 Main Street) approximately 1980

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