Bob Shaw's Sparkling Career | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Bob Shaw's Sparkling Career

The winningest TV personality in our annual Central Oregon Readers' Poll is retiring. He joined us on our podcast to look back at his years in broadcasting.

Television personalities come and go — but in Central Oregon, one guy has enough name recognition to have 1. A slogan he's well known for, and 2., a stack of "Best Of" awards, after winning Best TV Personality over 20 times in the Source Weekly's annual readers' poll.

Bob Shaw spent four years in the Navy during the Vietnam era, and then met his wife Cheryl while working for a college ministry. The two started a family and moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where Shaw started working in RV sales and service. That line of work eventually led him to Bend where he worked for Beaver Coach. Secretly though, Shaw hoped for a career where he could speak for a living. In his 40s Shaw found himself working as a waiter at a restaurant and going back to college at Central Oregon Community College. Around that time he began working as talent in commercials – a gig that opened the door for an audition as a weathercaster on the morning news. Shaw then attended Mississippi State University to complete a meteorology training — the career he's now retiring from after many years on News Channel 21 at Sunrise.

With Shaw's looming retirement this summer, he joined Publisher Aaron Switzer and myself on the Bend Don't Break podcast to talk about his career. This is an excerpt from that conversation, lightly edited for clarity. 

Source Weekly: What is it about doing weather that excites you so much?

Bob Shaw: Well, first, I like the science. It is personality-driven. We get to be a little goofy at times, except when the weather's serious. And so with that, and some of the things I got to do in the community, it just turned out to be a good fit.

SW: Let everyone know what time you have to arrive at the station.

BS: The alarm goes off at 12:30, we live in La Pine now, so get out a little bit early and I get to the station at 2:30.

SW: Wow! As someone who did a morning show myself as a producer, I do not miss that.

BS: I love this business. I love everything about it except that alarm clock and that I will not miss.

SW: I'm so curious about weather in our area. It's been a weird few years, but I'm curious if you've found in your data that there are actual changes in our weather over the last decade or so.

BS: There has been. And if you watch and record the record temperatures that I show every morning, record highs and record lows, the record highs, are almost always current — they're within the last 10 to 15 years. The record lows are all from before 1970. Some are as old as the '50s when records were just starting to be capped.

SW: I think we kind of anecdotally know the same follows for snow, too, right — that we're getting less than we used to.

BS: I have friends that have been here all their lives, and they remember Mount Bachelor having to send a snowcat up just to dig a channel in the snow for the chairs, to get up. But obviously in the last few years, we've had much, much less. This year was a good year, but the last three or four have been terrible.

SW: Well, they always say if you don't like Bend weather, just wait 10 minutes.

BS: We've lived here for about 40 years and during that time we've had the seven-year cycle where you get a bad winter every seven years or so. And that's about where we've been landing. But in between we have not had typical years in the last 15.

SW: As you're leaving KTVZ, I'm sure you have a lot of memories about your time there. Do you have some things that stand out from your time there? Some stories or events that you covered?

BS: I think the biggest story that I have to tell are the success stories of co-workers that have come through. We were accused of having a revolving door on the front of the building because anchors would come and go so quickly, but in the last 15 years or so they've signed contracts and they stay for a while. I have some of my weather trainees, yeah, that have gone on to quite illustrious careers. And I think that's the best thing that I can — the best legacy I can leave.

I think probably the most fun thing I've had to do is work with Al Roker, three or four times.

SW: Oh, fun. Tell us a little bit more about that.

BS: Well, we went to New York. I have a son-in-law, John McDonald, that is a, an associate producer with Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." And through him, the first time we went out. It was 2001, before 9/11. In the beginning of the summer, I called John, I said, hey, who should I talk to? He gave me a name and I said, hey, look, I don't want to be too presumptuous, but we will be in New York on this date. Would it be possible to shoot a couple of promos with Mr. Roker for our station and they said, well, yeah, sure. When are you going to be here? Well, it turned out that we were there 30 days after 9/11. Security was immense. But out there on the Plaza, I got to shoot promos with Al. And I've done that a couple of more times and then he was in Portland once and got to shoot some things.

SW: You have a "trademark" slogan with, "Have a sparkling day." How did that come about?

BS: I started in the RV business years ago and I worked at several dealerships. In the Bay Area and one of them was Camino Camper Center in South San Francisco. I was the parts and warranty guy for the service center, and we had a fleet of mechanics in there and they would bring their cut list for the coach they were working on and I'd get their parts and send them on their way. Well, we had one goofy, little guy, that was so fun to work with, a middle-aged guy named Ron. I don't remember his last name, but jelly-jar-bottom glasses, and it was just fun to work with him. He'd scoop up his parts from the parts counter and he'd go, "Have a sparkling day!"

I totally stole it, but I had not heard that for many years and then I got to where I was doing my very first work day forecast, the thing where Al Roker says, "Here's what it's like in your neck of the woods." Well, I got in recording that and I thought, I'm not going to get to the end of this and say, "Have a nice day," and "Have a sparkling day slipped out." I hadn't heard that for years and it stuck.

SW: Yeah, well, Ron, if you're out there, maybe Bob owes you a coffee or something!

BS: I do. Indeed. Yep. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of that! It was totally shocking to me and now I hear it and see it everywhere.

SW: We have our Best of Central Oregon coming up. You have been a really longtime winner as Best TV personality. I fully expect that next year people are still going to vote for you, even though you will be retired! Do you remember how many times you won it?

BS: 21 times! I did not get it the first year. I got it the second year, did not get it the third year, and then every year since. Then it's been a clean sweep.

SW: I have to say, I did get a call from your GM, the year that you did not win it. And I remember who did win it, and as he read me the riot act, like, not possible. He was quite the advocate for you and I assured him, it was not our intention to put one TV personality over another and we went on from there. He was sure since you didn't win that somehow it was rigged.

BS: I did not know that! Thank you — I'll have to give that gentleman a call.

SW: So your last day is coming up at the end of July — who's your replacement and do they know what big shoes they have to fill?

BS: We've hired a gentleman that's coming to us from Roanoke, Virginia. He has 30 years' experience in the business, and he, and his wife are going to retire out here.

SW: What's your plan for retirement?

BS: We have been talking about this for about two years. And just recently, it came to pass that the college, COCC, came to me and said, "Hey, we're losing our meteorology instructor for the Aviation Department. Would you consider this? And so that's my new hire, is working up at COCC. Probably be just a couple classes, a couple days a week.

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. You can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis.
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