By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.
By NANCYE TUTTLE
When Barry Burbank, veteran WBZ-TV (Channel 4) meteorologist, graduated from Lowell Technological Institute in 1972, he was likely the last person there that teachers could imagine carving out a successful career in TV weather forecasting.
"I was the last person anyone there would have thought would go into broadcasting. I didn't have confidence to be on the air and wasn't sure enough of myself," Burbank recalled last week.
But that was then, this is now.
And now Burbank is celebrating his 25 years at WBZ, first as the station's weekend and relief meteorologist and now as its weekday morning and noon forecaster. It makes him the region's longest tenured morning weatherman.
Last Wednesday was a day of celebration for Burbank, who arrived at WBZ just three weeks after the Blizzard of '78 from WCSH-TV Channel 6 in Portland, Maine.
"It was more of a surprise than I expected, just a terrific day," said Burbank, who received proclamations from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and from the American Meteorological Society.
Also on hand was Don Kent, the legendary WBZ forecaster, now retired, who served in the morning slot for 35 years.
Kent, in fact, was Burbank's early role model.
"As a kid growing up in Maine in the 1960s, I had visited WBZ and always watched Don Kent do the weather. I modeled my room to look like the WBZ studio with maps and charts. So I guess in a way I was looking in that direction," he said.
When he arrived at 'BZ, his goal was to succeed Kent, which happened in the mid-1980s.
Burbank had many fine teachers at Lowell Tech (now UMass Lowell), too. But Ashton Peyrefitte stands out particularly strong in his memory.
"I had my meteorology lab with him. A lot of professors care about their students, but he knew where all his students went and was interested in their work and success. He was always there for his students and we were like his family," says Burbank.
A lot has changed in weather forecasting since Burbank joined WBZ.
"The amount of coverage we do for storms is phenomenal now. But I have producers who help me with charts and graphs," he said.
Like others in his profession, Burbank believes in giving back to his community. He visits schools regularly to talk about weather and particularly enjoys kids in fourth through sixth grade.
A resident of Andover, he also works for the Andover/North Andover YMCA, raising funds and serving on the board.
As for those current WBZ morning show promotions where Burbank is making eggs, he remarks, "I do a pretty good egg. I worked for my uncle's egg processing plant in Maine, so I know a lot about eggs. Those are the greatest promotion spots we've done, a lot of fun."
Nancye Tuttle's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .