Weathering TV News
BGSU alumna lands dream job as chief meteorologist in her hometown
By Marie Dunn-Harris
Coming into her first year at BGSU, Betsy Kling ’97 was set on becoming a fourth grade teacher. She even chose BGSU because of the reputation of the College of Education and Human Development. But she never thought she would end up on television forecasting the weather.
Kling is the chief meteorologist at WKYC-TV in Cleveland. It took a lot of hard work for her to get to where she is today. That hard work started her freshman year at BGSU when she realized that studying to be a teacher wasn’t a good fit for her.
“The education thing just wasn’t for me,” she said. “I did the morning announcements on TV in high school and I thought it would be fun to do the announcements for a living.”
Kling switched her major to journalism and enjoyed learning about the different types of writing, but it was broadcast writing where she found her passion.
“My professors taught me that you have to be factual, but you can also be as creative as you want and that’s where it really clicked with me," she said.
Kling picked meteorology as a lab science after someone in her residence hall suggested it as an “easy” class.
“I ended up crying at every exam,” she said. “I was taking my degree courses in being creative and factual, but my minor courses were very factual with no creativity whatsoever.”
Kling credits Dr. Glenn Fry and a tutor for helping her understand the scientific side of what she was learning. Meteorology eventually became her minor.
“My senior year I was doing weather twice a week on BG24 News when a light bulb went off in my brain,” she said. “I thought, ‘holy cow I can be scientific and creative at the same time!’”
One week before Kling graduated, she signed her first contract with a TV station in Fort Wayne, Ind. She was a general news reporter three days a week and meteorologist on the weekends. That’s where she discovered that doing the weather was really her passion.
“The red light hit me on the forehead when they wanted me, the happy weekend weather lady, to report on a fatal home invasion during the week,” she said. “That’s when I realized that I really wanted to do the weather.”
Kling spent three years in Fort Wayne and from there she moved to Jacksonville, Fla. where she spent two years as a weather anchor before landing her current job in Cleveland. She grew up in nearby Copley, so working at WKYC was a dream come true.
“It was great getting calls and emails from friends who I hadn’t talked to in years, from acquaintances, people who knew my family and especially my teachers,” she said.
Kling eventually worked her way up from weekend weather anchor to chief meteorologist. Her calm voice and ability to interpret data that comes in during major storms is what sets her apart from her peers.
“I have my own style, I talk people through it. It’s almost like teaching a weather lesson and it helps me to be able to think on my feet,” she said.
Kling recently met a viewer at a retail store while she was shopping, who thanked her for her coverage during a tornado warning.
“He said that he was terrified of storms and that by listening to me talk him through it, he knew he was going to be ok,” she said. “Talk about something that touches my heart, how cool is that!”
Outside of her anchoring duties for the weekday 6, 7 and 11 p.m. newscasts, Kling volunteers for several local organizations and is very involved in the community.
“For me it’s not just the community where I work and live, it’s the community where I grew up. It’s so neat to be able to give back in that way,” she said.
In November, Kling was the recipient of the Chuck Heaton Award from the Press Club of Cleveland. Heaton, the award’s namesake, spent 50 years as a sports writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and is a legend in northwest Ohio journalism. The award is given to the journalist who best exemplifies his sensitivity, humility and journalism heart. Kling was stunned when she found out that she had been nominated.
“When they told me who had won before I thought, 'I definitely don’t deserve this.' I can think of 10 other people who deserve this more than I do. I’m just super grateful and it’s such an honor,” she said.
Kling has a long list of accomplishments, including several Emmy Awards, a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist accreditation from the American Meteorological Society and the Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association. But her biggest accomplishment in her career is being recognized for doing what she loves.
“I think it’s the biggest honor when people—perfect strangers—come out of their comfort zone and come up to me and say hello just to thank me for what I do,” she said.
Kling reflects on her time spent at BGSU. She worked at Myles Pizza and was very involved in BG24 News. She remembers the BG wind, spending the hot summer months in Prout Hall with no air conditioning and how cold it was in January 1994, one of the coldest winters on record in Ohio. She also credits her professors in both meteorology and journalism for helping her discover what she was capable of.
“The thing I took away from BG the most was that I found my passion, I found what I love and I also learned how to stand on my own two feet,” she said.