By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a sad day for us here at KDKA-TV and for our viewers who have spent more than three decades planning their lives according to the daily forecast of former KDKA-TV chief meteorologist Bob Kudzma.
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Kudzma died Thursday morning, just weeks before his 82nd birthday.
His first night in the air on KDKA was December 8, 1968. It was a night he will never forget.
“Of all things, it has to snow heavily. My very first day was a Sunday night, 11am news and it was snowing like crazy. And was I scared? You’d better think I was scared, ”Kudzma once recalled.
And rightly so. Kudzma came to KDKA with no broadcasting experience.
His career in meteorology began when he joined the US Air Force, took college courses in meteorology, and eventually predicted the weather for bombing in Vietnam. And when Kudzma started forecasting on TV, it was as easy as it gets.
“When I started, I used magnetic material. But then there was a big advance, I went to markers. That was a mess, ”recalled Kudzma during an interview on the 50th anniversary of KDKA in 1999.
But if you put it all in a nutshell, Kudzma had exactly what any good meteorologist needs – a perfect blend of intelligence, common sense, and humor.
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Two of his biggest forecasting moments in Pittsburgh were the deadly tornado outbreak on May 31, 1985 and the 1993 snow storm that threw two feet of snow over the area over the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day.
But really, every day Kudzma joked that he knew what the audience really wanted. They just wanted to know if it was going to rain.
When Kudzma retired on May 31, 2002, it was just standing in the KDKA newsroom to send him to his other job. Several years before his retirement, Kudzma began working as a school bus driver for the Bethel Park School District.
And he kept on doing this job until the coronavirus pandemic started last year.
There will never be a Bob Kudzma again. He was smart, funny, and charismatic. He was a man who really loved his job, cared about getting it right, and it was an honor to be welcomed into people’s homes for 34 years.
Bob once had this to say about KDKA viewers: “They accepted me into the community. I think that will stay with me forever. How great the people have been to me and my family over the years that I’ve been here. I think that stays with me more than anything else. “
There are currently no plans for a memorial. The Kudzma family asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Vietnam Veterans of America.
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KDKA will pay a special homage to Kudzma’s life and career on the 6 p.m. news show.