PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a sad day for us here at KDKA-TV and for our viewers who spent more than three decades planning their lives around the daily forecast from former KDKA-TV chief meteorologist Bob Kudzma.
Kudzma died Thursday morning, just a few weeks shy of his 82nd birthday.READ MORE: Fatal Police Shooting In Ohio Hospital Caught On Officer Body Camera
His first night on the air on KDKA was Dec. 8, 1968. It was a night he never forgot.
“Of all things, it has to be snowing hard. My very first day was a Sunday night, 11 o’clock news and it was snowing like crazy out. And was I scared? You better believe I was scared,” Kudzma once recalled.
And rightly so. Kudzma came to KDKA with no broadcasting experience.
His career in meteorology began when he entered the U.S Air Force, took college courses in meteorology, and eventually found himself forecasting the weather for bombing missions in Vietnam. And when Kudzma began forecasting on TV, it was as bare-bones as it got.
“When I first started, I used magnetic stuff. But then there was a big advancement, I went to markers. That was a mess,” Kudzma remembered during an interview for KDKA’s 50th anniversary in 1999.
But when you boil it all down, Kudzma had exactly what every good meteorologist needs — a perfect blend of intelligence, common sense and humor.READ MORE: West Virginia's Offer Of Cash And Free Recreational Destination Passes Receives Huge Response
Two of his biggest forecasting moments in Pittsburgh were the deadly tornado outbreak on May 31, 1985, and the blizzard of 1993 — which dumped two feet of snow on the area over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
But really, day in and day out, Kudzma always joked he knew what the viewers really wanted. They just wanted to know if it was going to rain.
When Kudzma retired on May 31, 2002, it was standing-room-only in the KDKA newsroom to send him off to his other job. A few years before he retired, Kudzma began working as a school bus driver for the Bethel Park School District.
And he continued to do that job until the coronavirus pandemic began last year.
There will never be another Bob Kudzma. He was smart, funny and charismatic. He was a man who truly loved his job, cared about getting it right and was honored to be welcomed into peoples’ homes for 34 years.
WATCH: Remembering Bob Kudzma
Bob once had this to say about KDKA’s viewers: “They accepted me into the community. I think that will always stick with me. How really super the people have been to me and my family all the years I’ve been here. I think that sticks with me more than anything else.”MORE NEWS: Crews Spend Hours Trying To Gain Control Of Massive Scrapyard Fire On Neville Island
There are no plans for a memorial at this point. The Kudzma family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made here to the Vietnam Veterans of America.