Weather guy

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is the weatherman on Good Morning America. If you need any more introduction than that, you can probably skip to the next column (or go to the GMA Web site, Anyway, Tony (the guy is so affable, Perkins just looked odd in print) came to town for Hot August Nights. This interview was conducted by telephone.

How’s the weather?

Hot and muggy. Thunderstorms. I just came in from lunch. If you’re outside for five minutes, you’re sweating like crazy.

Have you ever owned a classic car?

It depends on how broad your definition of classic is. The first car I ever drove, which was a hand-me-down from my mother, was a ‘60 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I don’t think that’s considered a classic car, but for me, at the time, it was pretty sporty. It was burgundy with a white top. I liked it. [Hot August Nights administration] asked me if there were any cars I’d be interesting in seeing or getting in and that was the first one I mentioned. Everyone else is thinking about the classic Mustangs or the Thunderbirds, which I also like. If I could find a car just like the one I drove when I was 16—that would make me pretty happy.

What is your favorite car memory from high school?

Uh … (laughs).

Yeah, that’s the memory I was looking for.

Let’s just say that my favorite car memory from high school would be similar to any young man’s favorite car memory from high school. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with driving.

What’s Diane Sawyer like when she first comes into the office in the morning?

She’s very much like what you see on the air. When Diane comes in, she’s very focused on what the tasks are for the day, what the interviews are and preparing for all of that. She’s very casual. She comes in her flannel shirts and sweats or jeans. Not a vain person at all. She wears her glasses. Unless she’s got something to do after the show, she’s right back into that for the rest of the day.

Do people in New York City ask you, “Reno, where?”

No. We’re a fairly cosmopolitan lot here. We know our geography.

What’s the worst weather job you ever had?

It depends on what you mean by worst. When you are standing in [awful weather] conditions, your skin is stinging because rain is coming at you sideways at 60, 70, 80 miles an hour. There have been occasions where I have literally tethered myself to a pole or to the bumper of our vehicle because you feel like you’re going to be blown away. It certainly isn’t fun, but there is an aspect to it that is exhilarating and gets your adrenaline going. You also know when I’m doing it, it’s not a stunt. I’m doing it for a reason, to report on what’s happening and to help warn people and make sure they’re getting out of harm’s way. While it’s not a comfortable assignment, there are things about it that are exciting and things about it that really feel like a public service.

Why is it everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it?

It’s because we can’t do anything about it. People think we can, but we can’t. It’s very funny people always say to me on the street, ‘Hey, when are you going to do something about this weather?' I say, ‘What am I supposed to do? I’ve warned you; that’s all I can do. I told you it was going to be hot and muggy. Stay indoors.'