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Steve Baskerville

Broadcast meteorologist Steve Baskerville was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950. He attended the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University and graduated from there in 1972 with his B.S. degree in communications. Later, in 2006, Baskerville earned a certificate in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University. He received his American Meteorological Society (AMS) Seal of Approval in 2007.

In 1972, Baskerville began his broadcasting career and was hired by the Philadelphia School District Office of Curriculum where he hosted a children’s show on public radio. He then joined KYW-TV, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, from 1977 to 1984. While there, Baskerville worked as a weatherman, co-hosted a morning talk show with Maurice “Maury” Povich, and hosted a daily children’s program which was honored by Action for Children’s Television. In 1984, Baskerville was hired by CBS as a broadcast meteorologist on their “Morning News” segment, making him the first African American network weatherman. Then, in 1987, he became the weatherman for WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

Baskerville’s interest in children’s programming led him to host a two-hour special, “Dealing with Dope.” He also co-hosted a children’s issues program for WCBS-TV titled, “What If.”
In addition, Baskerville has displayed his diverse skills by hosting projects such as “Thanks to Teachers,” a salute to area educators; “Taste of the Taste,” a half-hour live broadcast from the Taste of Chicago; the “All-City Jamboree,” a high school talent competition; and “Beautiful Babies,” a public service campaign.

Baskerville has been honored for excellence throughout his career. In 1999, he won an Emmy Award for the news feature series, “Best of Chicago”; and, in 2001, he was honored by the Illinois Broadcasters Association for “Best Weather Segment.” Baskerville served as host for CBS 2 Chicago’s Emmy-Award winning program, “Sunday! With Steve Baskerville!” He received local Emmy Awards for his work on CBS 2’s 2004 broadcast of the LaSalle Bank of Chicago Marathon, and his coverage of the deadly tornado in Utica, Illinois in 2004. In addition, he received an Emmy Award in 2005 for the news feature, “Steve’s Getaway Guide.” In 2006, Baskerville earned several more local Emmy Awards including the “Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence.”

Baskerville and his wife live in Glenview, Illinois. They have two children: Aaron Baskerville and Sheena Baskerville.

Steve Baskerville was interviewed by The HistoryMakers August 24, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.238

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/24/2013

Last Name

Baskerville

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stephen

Schools

Temple University

Mississippi State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herman

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BAS04

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

It Is Better To Have And Not Need Than To Need And Not Have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/12/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Television personality and weatherman Steve Baskerville (1950 - ) was hired by CBS in 1984, making him the first African American network weatherman. In 1987, he joined WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois where he earned several local Emmy Awards.

Employment

CBS News

KYW TV Philadelphia

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Steve Baskerville's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes his mother, Mary Baskerville

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about experiencing racism

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his mother's career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his maternal grandmother and being raised by a widowed mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville describes his paternal family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about encountering President Herbert Hoover

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about the talented alumni of Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes his family life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about growing up in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about celebrating holidays as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville remembers his family vacations as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville shares his memories of elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville remembers entering a smile contest

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about encountering gangs while attending Shoemaker Junior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about being a good student and his plans for college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes his activities at Overbrook High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his social life at Overbrook High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about his aspiration to be a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville describes the political climate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville recalls the tumult of the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes harassment by the police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about his father's military service in WWII

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his decision to attend Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about attending Temple University during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his decision to major in Theater and Communications at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about his first job working on a children's educational radio show

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville talks about his work in children's television programming

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about working on "Evening Magazine" and "AM-PM" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about how he became a weatherman

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes his audition for the CBS Morning News

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about African Americans in the Philadelphia broadcasting market in the late 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about meeting celebrities who appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show"

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes being recognized in public and working in large broadcasting markets

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about taking a job at a morning newscast in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville recalls being encouraged to take a broadcasting job in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville contrasts national versus local broadcasts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville remembers the celebrities who appeared on the CBS Morning Show

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his decision to take a job as weatherman for WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about his wife and children

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about reporting on Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's death

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes working at WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes the Chicago broadcasting market

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville talks about the importance of peer acceptance and having an authentic personality in the broadcasting business

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about working with Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville talks about the major weather stories he covered in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville talks about "The Mike Douglas" show

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his strategy for dealing with changing management at WBBM

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about hosting "Sunday with Steve Baskerville"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes the non-weather programming that he hosted

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes his ideal television program

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about being a people person

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville talks about meeting interesting people

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about winning nine Emmy Awards

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville talks about earning a certificate in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville talks about global warming

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Steve Baskerville talks about the controversies faced by HistoryMakers Harry Porterfield and Dorothy Tucker as black journalists in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Steve Baskerville talks about HistoryMaker Jim Tilmon

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville describes the wage gap between African American female broadcasters and male broadcasters

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his heroes

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville shares his career advice

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about his son's career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his future plans

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

9$3

DATitle
Steve Baskerville talks about the major weather stories he covered in Chicago, Illinois
Steve Baskerville talks about how he became a weatherman
Transcript
Now, tell me a little bit about, you're doing the weather, what is the technology in terms of weather reporting at this time?$$Well, it's very--(simultaneous)--$$I mean your first year (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$I mean we've got all sorts of real help. You know, when I first started we were putting magnets on the board and clouds of suns and everything was pretty much broad, you know, like a broad area of rain will be here and then broad area moves here. And now things are so localized and the computer has done everything to make it so different, you know. You, you're not--and the speed of--the speed and the accuracy of the projections that you make, those are--I can look at, I can go to work now and look at a 48-hour computer model and what this particular model is saying the next two days are gonna be like. And it'd almost be on the money in terms of the hour that--it'll show me that Tuesday night at 11:00, this area is gonna move right into Northeastern Illinois, and more often than not, the next 24 hours, you can be in the 90's percent for accurate. I mean it's--the guesswork is practically gone. They're so sophisticated now.$$What was your biggest weather story the first year you were in Chicago [Illinois]?$$Well, I, and maybe it wasn't the first year, but I was the first reporter on the scene with the Plainfield [Illinois] tornadoes. I happened to have been in Oak Lawn [Illinois] doing something else, doing a story--it was a very, very hot day. And we were talking about people who have strange jobs on hot days, and these were guys that worked in refrigerators all day with coats on, like meat lockers, trying to protect the meat or whatever, and it was like a hundred degrees outside. And then I got word something happened in, around Joliet. Can you get there? And we got in the car, and we went out to a field, and it was commotion , and I, you know, 10 or 11 people out talking to each other in a frantic way. What happened? Tornado, and it went that way. And the person pointed, and when he pointed, it was almost textbook. Tornadoes tend to move on diagonal lines. And it was from like North--it was moving from like Northwest to--Southwest to Northeast, Southwest to Northeast. And we just followed the destruction. It started getting worse and worse. We saw some trees down, and we followed the line and then saw some rooftops gone, saw buildings just leveled. So it was those Plainfield tornadoes and the toughest part of it was what the National Guard had to do that night, and they were, not afraid, but they were troubled. One of 'em said to me, you know, I gotta go out there now in that field and look around, and I don't know what I'm gonna find there. But it was the aftermath of that tornado that was probably the biggest--I've gone to two tornado scenes, not during the midst of the tornado, but here and in Utica [Illinois], there was some big tornadoes, more recent than Plainfield. But those were the big--and I've had a couple all night, gotta stay, be in the station, blizzard episodes. I'd much rather have a blizzard than the severe weather. Severe is quicker, happens and ends quicker, but much more frightening because of the possibility.$$You know, that Plainfield tornado, do you remember what year that was?$$Nineteen ninety [1990], I believe.$$There were a lot of casualties--(simultaneous)--$$Yes.$$Over a hundred people?$$Yes, 'cause it wasn't just Plainfield. It was Crest Hill [Illinois] and maybe parts of Joliet [Illinois]. But I'm, but it was, it was pretty devastating.$Eventually, the boss running, the GM [General Manager] running that station comes down to me and he says, you know, I wish there was a way to get you involved in more of the day. This is working so well. Weather. And I said, what? The weather. Why didn't I think of it earlier? You'd make a great weatherman. I said--$$What was your initial thought when he said that?$$You've got to be kidding. I mean I had never thought of it. Maury [Povich] was an anchor of the 5:00 o'clock newscast, and he liked the relationship we had. And he thought that I could blend into a newscast easily from what he saw earlier. The Dean of Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] was an old-time weather broadcaster, now Dean of Science at Drexel. He says, you know, I like that guy. Why don't you pay me to teach him. I'll teach him the weather. So the station sends me off to Francis Davis, Dr. Francis Davis, and several times a week, one-on-one, special course, special arrangement, I learned the weather like sitting there with notes and pad, pen, teaching me personally, meteorology. Now--$$What did this education involve? I mean how do you teach a weatherman (laughter)?$$Well, I mean it wasn't, it was an informal arrangement for sure. But the goal was, see, there's a--we can't as TV meteorologists ever do as much as the weather service is doing. I mean there are people on staff 24 hours a day, breaking up the day. I mean there's broadcast meteorology and then there's meteorology. I eventually went on and took courses, coursework at Mississippi State [University] where you get credentialed to have a seal 'cause are tests that you have to take and, but in those days, it was very loose. I mean the entry into the world of weather was pretty loose, and there were--I got, one of the most popular weathermen in Philadelphia at the time was a D.J. who made the transition from being a D.J., straight into doing television weather, enormously popular. I mean untouchable, popular for most of the years that I was in Philadelphia. So, so the, the thing about, half of--even to this day, I mean now we can go on the air with credentials and study from the day, from whatever the weather of the day is, but the map isn't the star of that segment. You are. So it's as much personality driven as it is information, especially in this day and age because people have so--we are fighting all sorts of sources for--by the time I'm seen on the air, people have, if they wanted, gotten the information, six ways from Sunday, from their phone, from their iPad, from all sorts of alerts and descriptions of the weather. And, you know, and, but the same for news as well. I think news is changing that way too, but we're really getting off on a tangent, so much so that I'm not sure where--but that was my entrance into steady television work.$$Now, you didn't have like radar weather or did you?$$Yeah, well, the thing that was most special about this arrangement with the Francis Davis who was this instructor of mine, he monitored me every day. I mean I was, it was like riding a bike, you took the training wheels off, and sent me off, and I'm wobbling. And I go on the air with all of the basics. I knew what fronts and highs and lows were and what they did and where they came from. I mean I could put a forecast together. I had to also master the phrasing, and I had to also make sense. And he'd call me after a show. That was great what you just said, that was exactly what's gonna happen or he'd call and say, that was crazy. Where'd you get that? Or that's the most ridiculous thing I ever--and it was wonderful to have someone in your corner like that. So I did, and I thought if I'm lucky, I'll keep this job for the rest of the month.$$What year was this?$$Nineteen seventy, like seven [1977] or so, 1978.