Weathermen like it hot

Rob Blair

Rob Blair

Faithful viewers of KHSL-TV or KNVN-TV probably know from watching this week’s promos that Rob Blair, former Chico weatherman and beloved local personality, is jumping back into his old slot.

Blair has been gone for more than two years, but he’s hardly forgotten.

Many will remember him as the lively co-host of the morning and afternoon broadcasts—now called Wake Up Action News and Action News at Noon, respectively. Blair’s flair for delivering the weather, along with his presence off the air and work with local charities, made him hugely popular within the community.

Nevertheless, some likely will remember him for his short stint about two years ago at KTNV-TV, in Las Vegas, where he became an embattled figure after civil-rights leaders alleged he uttered a racist comment during a pre-taped segment that aired on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The incident—always refuted by Blair—made national headlines and cost him his job.

When asked this week about the whole controversy, Blair, whom the Chico community seemed to support during the ordeal, insists there was no forethought behind what he supposedly said in Las Vegas. As he spoke, he blended words that, to some, sounded like a racial slur, he said.

“I stumbled, and everyone in this business stumbles, and if they don’t they must be walking on water,” the 32-year-old Kentucky native said. “I wouldn’t even call it a mistake. It just happened.”

Having to face the accusation was an odd position for Blair, who, as a gay man, knows what it’s like to be a minority and prides himself on living by the golden rule.

After leaving Sin City, where he worked for just a few months, Blair moved to the Los Angeles area and began pursuing a degree in counseling psychology from Argosy University. He wanted to help people with sexuality issues.

But Blair, who started off in radio broadcasting as a teenager, also did a lot of soul searching during that time. He eventually decided to make a return to his passion—television news. He starts his job in Chico on Monday (March 19) and said the decision to return to the close-knit station and a city he loves was an easy one.

Rich Dahlquist

Looking back, Blair has found the good in his struggles of the past couple years. Among them, he has grown in his faith.

“We all have peaks and valleys in our lives, and I think what happened to me was a valley,” he said. “But it shows that I’m human … and I think that’s a blessing.”

Trisha Coder, news director for KHSL and KNVN, didn’t work with Blair during his three years in Chico. But based on feedback from station management and the community, bringing him back was a no-brainer, she said.

Already, she has received several e-mails from viewers eager for his return.

Meanwhile, the station said goodbye last week to Rich Dahlquist, the witty co-host of the morning and noon shows for the past year and a half. Like Blair before him, he is also headed to a big gig in the desert—this time to market No. 13 in sunny Phoenix, at KNXV-TV.

Before breaking into television about five years ago, Dahlquist spent 13 years as a chemist. The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate worked for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, performing research, before heading back to school at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley for meteorology.

In Phoenix, the 42-year-old father of two will handle the weekend weather duties and put his science background to greater use by reporting on air-quality issues.

Dahlquist first entered the Chico market at competitor KRCR-TV. The station is located in Redding, where his wife, Anna, works as an attorney at Shasta Legal Services, and where the couple have been raising their sons, 6-year-old Jake and 4-year-old Sam. The 150-mile drive to Chico and back each day, starting out at 3:20 a.m., has been taxing but worth the effort.

While Dahlquist admits he’s a little intimidated by the hair-and-makeup environment of the big-city job, he’s excited about the opportunity. The biggest bonus of the move, he said, will be living close to his wife’s family.

Back at the Chico station, Coder said it’s clear Dahlquist will be missed. He was ranked as the station’s most recognizable talent, worked with many charitable causes, and is an all-around great person, she said.

By mid-afternoon on his last day, March 9, Dahlquist said his e-mail inbox had 45 notes written by local well-wishers. “I’m absolutely humbled, because people have been so warm.”