When I attended the Sun Bowl Parade last November, I had so many people asking that I do a story on Chuck Debroder, KTSM’s long-time Meteorologist. Like the annual parade, he’s become an El Paso icon.
“I only get the weather from Chuck,” said Alex Mendoza, during the parade. “He’s become like one of us.”
He has. Over the years Chuck as put his down roots in El Paso, he’s woven himself into the fabric of our lives. Chuck has also become a weatherman we can depend on.
Continuing NewsChannel 9’s tradition of weathermen longevity, Chuck now stands beside another legendary Weatherman and community favorite, Ted Bender. Just like Ted, Chuck has become a part of the community.
“I like Chuck,” said Veronica Lozoya. “He’s not talking to us like we are children when he gives the weather. He talks to us like we are friends and the only ones watching!”
So how did Chuck end up here? Well, let’s talk about just that.
This story – his story – starts on a snowy January 17th in Denver, Colorado not too many years ago.
“After they delivered me, the hospital stopped delivering babies,” Chuck recalls with a sly grin. “I don’t know if there was any correlation. They’re back at it again, but it took them a good twenty-five year before they started delivering babies again because I was a shock.”
After this, I discovered that Chuck and I had a somewhat parallel life in that we both worked in radio. Chuck in Colorado, before coming down to Texas.
“I grew up in Colorado. In Arvada, then Green Mountain mainly,” says Chuck.
When it came time for college, he attended the University of Southern Colorado, “Which is now CSU Pueblo,” says Chuck. “Kind of like the UTEP of Colorado in many ways.”
Pueblo shares many similarities with us here in El Paso: a large Hispanic population, warmer than the rest of the state, but “not as warm as us,” says Chuck.
I remember when I was living in Pueblo, before moving to Canyon City, Colorado. There are a lot of similarities. Like us, at least back then, you couldn’t even convince the city or county to fix the roads, much less the state. Plus there are also seasons in Pueblo!
But I digress, this is about Chuck, and not me.
“I went into radio and found out that you can qualify for free government cheese on what they pay you,” says Chuck of his first few jobs. (Again, those parallels in our lives. Even here, when I started radio back in 1985, there wasn’t that much money in it).
“Didn’t want to say, ‘what if,’” recalls Chuck. “So, I went to Metropolitan State College, it was actually Metro State University now, in downtown Denver and got a meteorology degree.”
After graduation Chuck found himself working for Colorado’s up-and-coming gaming industry, for the casinos. As a consultant for them, he would give the weather forecast, and the outlook for the tracks that had horse racing.
“I still had to wait tables at Chili’s,” says Chuck.
Then came the move to Texas.
“I moved to Lubbock,” said Chuck. When moving to Texas, Chuck took a leap of faith. He was promised a job in TV.
“When I got there,I called the news director,” said Chuck. “He’s like, ‘today’s my last day, good luck.’” So, back to Chili’s while applying at the other stations in town.
After some time, the original station hired a new news director and took Chuck on.
“They hired me at minimum wage,” says Chuck of that station in Lubbock. “I made more money as a Chili’s waiter, which I had to continue to do.”
He recalls taking orders, at Chili’s, while working as a weekend meteorologist.
“So, people would be like, ‘Hey, Chuck; I love your weather, what are you doing here,” Chuck said. “How do you like your fajitas?” he would respond.
Chuck traces his wanting to be a weatherman to his mom.
“You know, I thought back,” says Chuck, “my mom watches every weathercast when she gets home all the way till she goes to bed. And she flips around; then she’ll watch the one she likes. That was the way it kind of stuck in my head.”
Just twenty-two years ago Chuck came to El Paso. From his first day here, he has become part of the city, a friend to all of us.
When Chuck became ill, and announced it back in September 2012, the family that is El Paso rallied around him, worried about him, wished him well and wanted to know how to help him.
“When he was sick, you could see that!” says Jennifer Rojas. “I worried about him like so many of us here in El Paso.”
So, who is Chuck Debroder?
Chuck is El Paso. He is a member of our family, a close friend. He’s someone who will take the time to stop and talk to anyone who says ‘hi.’
Christopher Rojas says Chuck is a legend. He’s right, he’s a legend, and we are glad to have him here in El Paso.
Check out Chuck on KTSM NewsChannel 9 at 5, 6 and 10 pm.