Tom Skilling is a straight shooter – a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy. From his early days to his veteran years, the newsman cum meteorologist has charted an almost predictable course. He always knew what he wanted to do and went for it. Tom says that he is fascinated by the weather because it plays a part in every facet of our lives. From how we feel, to how we travel, work, dress and even to where we reside.
Looking back, one can say things worked out for the weatherman. Today, Skilling is definitely a name to look up if the goal is to make it in his niche. He currently works as a columnist and chief meteorologist at WGN-TV.
Tom Skilling – Bio
Tom was born Thomas Ethelbert Skilling III on February 20, 1952, to Thomas and Betty Skilling. His birth occurred in the city of Aurora, in Chicago, Illinois, where he was also raised.
For a man who makes a living by sharing information with evidence, Tom has proved efficient in keeping the details of his life close to his heart. Tom Skilling did his high school education at West Aurora High School. Upon graduation, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Here, he studied for a degree in Meteorology and Journalism.
His Career Achievements
It seems Skilling couldn’t wait to get to work. His broadcasting career began at the very young age of 14. His first employers, WKKD-AM & FM, brought him on board while he was still in high school. The station served the Kane, Kendall, and DuPage counties of Aurora. He fulfilled his job description with the radio station throughout the remainder of his high school days. The station would eventually air its last broadcast on November 29, 2008.
Not wanting to leave his home city, the budding weatherman subsequently joined WLXT-TV (Ch. 60) in August 1970. It isn’t entirely clear how long he worked for the television station before leaving. WLXT-TV was his start in television broadcasting where he presented the daily weather forecast for the station, starting in his junior year of high school. His younger brother, Jeffrey Skilling – who would later become the President and CEO of the ill-fated Enron Corporation – was also a part-time employee at the time.
After his admission into the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Tom Skilling was hired by the ABC-affiliated television station WKOW-TV and the local radio station WTSO AM, both licensed to Madison, Wisconsin. From 1975, Skilling was also on the books of the Fox-affiliate TV broadcaster, WITI, in Milwaukee, where he continued his duties as a meteorologist until 1978.
After leaving WITI, the broadcaster returned to his hometown of Chicago with WGN-TV Channel 9. He made his return to the Chicago area on August 13, 1978. Skilling has been on the books of the independent television station since then and has slowly worked his way up to the rank of chief meteorologist of the station. He is responsible for the weather forecast during the weekday newscasts of 5, 6, 9, and 10 pm. He is also a columnist and is responsible for writing the daily weather column for the Chicago Tribune.
In his line of work, it arguably doesn’t get better than Tom Skilling. He has been rumoured to be the local broadcast meteorologist with the highest paycheck in the country.
Many also agree he deserves that spot as he has the skills and genius to back it up. Skilling’s weather broadcasts are known for featuring some of the best technology in terms of animation and computer imagery. Also, his weather reporting accuracy is something of a legend in the news industry. One of the highlights of his career that underlines this assertion is his strikingly correct prediction of the Groundhog Day blizzard. The historic winter storm occurred from January 31 to February 2, practically paralyzing the entire Chicago area. Skilling predicted the occurrence almost two whole weeks before it arrived.
His skill was praised by his contemporaries across the industry, including his now-late friend and colleague Bob Collins of WGN, who memorably named him “Skillful”, a play on his last name, Skilling. Owing to his widespread reputation, the meteorologist was consulted during the making of Gore Verbinski’s 2005 dramedy The Weather Man. The movie was shot entirely in Chicago and even employed a fictionalized version of WGN-TV as the workplace of the main character played by Nicolas Cage.
Besides his on-screen work, Tom is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. He hosts annual seminars at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Batavia, Illinois. Here, he delivers his expertise to increase awareness and knowledge about tornadoes and other severe weather conditions. He has also received some awards and recognitions, including a January 1995 Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois.
What Is His Salary?
Tom Skilling’s line of work doesn’t pay as much as what is received by mainstream newscasters who are the faces of many television networks. This is even less for meteorologists working in local stations. Skilling doesn’t fit into this mould as he pockets a pretty penny from his work as WGN’s chief weatherman.
Tom Skilling is regarded as the highest-paid meteorologist of a local television station in the entire country. As of 2019, his net worth is valued at $14 million.
Is He Married Or Gay?
The rumours concerning Skilling’s sexual orientation have been swirling around for a long time. This was helped by the fact that the top shot weatherman has never been engaged or married to anyone.
As for the rumours on his possible homosexuality, he has not come out to either confirm or deny them.