Bob DeBardelaben, former weather anchor for WRAL, died Monday. He was 88.
DeBardelaben retired from the Raleigh-Durham CBS affiliate in 1989, but the station said he continued to be recognized when out in the the community.
DeBardelaben had been a radio announcer and host of WRAL’s “Dialing for Dollars” segments during afternoon movies when the television station asked him in 1976 to become a weather anchor.
“Bob was not a scientist, but he was a very good communicator, and I think Bob just made people feel good,” said Jim Hefner, former WRAL general manager. “He always came on with that big smile and that big voice, and he was going to tell you to the best of his ability what the weather was going to be.”
Still, DeBardelaben readily admitted that he was geographically challenged.
“I didn’t know where Nebraska was. I didn’t know where Iowa (was) … I knew North Carolina and South (Carolina),” he said. “One afternoon, before I went on the air, I went and took a pencil, and I went on the bottom, right-hand corner of every state. And I wrote ‘IA’ for Iowa, so I could stand up and say, ‘Well now, here is the front coming down through Iowa.’”
He said his most memorable moment on the air was doing the weather from a platform near the top of WRAL’s 2,000-foot transmission tower.
“I got down and I kissed the ground,” he said with a laugh. “I said, ‘I will not do this again. No way.'”
DeBardelaben never took himself too seriously.
“I don’t think many people can say they enjoyed their life as much as Bob DeBardelaben,” Hefner said. “Being on TV was fine, but not being on TV was just fine, too.”
In addition to weather reports, DeBardelaben voiced the sign-off announcements that WRAL ran at the end of each day – in the days before 24-hour broadcasting – as well as promotions for wrestling matches, which were staged in WRAL’s studios.