Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wally Kinnan The Weatherman

Wally Kinnan at work:Courtesy Life In Legacy

Today, we will look at possibly the second or third most popular weatherman in Cleveland TV History..Most certainly one of the top five, Wally Kinnan the Weatherman. He was weeknight weatherman at WKYC-TV 3 from 1965-to the mid 1970s..

Henry Wallace Kinnan was born in Rural Crooksville, Ohio, near Athens on March 7, 1919. He attended High School in Columbus where he met his wife, Marjorie Ahrendt. Kinnan attended Ohio State University, studying Mechanical Engineering..In early 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Hayes in Columbus. He eventually became a B-17 Bomber Pilot and was shot down over France August 17, 1943..After being transferred to a German POW Camp, He, along with his fellow POW's, convinced their German Captors to allow them to form a Musical group. Using whatever instruments that could be had through through donations, etc. They became known as the "Sagan Serenaders"..Kinnan was one of the group's conductors and played trumpet..Some of the group's exploits are described in the feature film the Great Escape.
After World War II, Wally Entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a degree in Meteorology. He served in the Korean Conflict as a Weather expert in the Pacific Region.

He then became one of the earliest TV Weathermen at WKY-TV 4 in Oklahoma City in 1953..He had AMS seal of approval #3..He tells how he drew straws with the two other AMS forecasters to see who would get numbers 1, 2 and 3. He moved to NBC's WRCV in Philadelphia in 1958, working alongside News Icon Vince Leonard..While in Philadelphia, Kinnan pioneered the 5-day forecast..With the court-ordered return of the Philadelphia station to Cleveland as WKYC in June 1965, Wally made the move to Cleveland, displacing the Popular Dick Goddard, who returned several months later at WJW-TV 8, where he still is today..

Kinnan's folksy, jovial manner and his expertise proved to be a hit with Northeast Ohioans..However, by the mid 1970's Kinnan had been fired at TV 3..He then worked at WTSP-10 Tampa, Florida in 1978-80 before retiring..He and his wife eventually retired to Houston, Texas to be near his Son David..

Kinnan passed away on November 22, 2002. Until reading more about him on the internet in recent years, I had no idea how full a life he had lived..

A Classic Moment:From WKYC-TV's "Eleventh Hour Report" in 1971..Virgil Dominic, Doug Adair and Jim Graner surprise Wally with a visit from none other than Lawrence Welk..Kinnan is visibly moved by the gesture, as he seems to be a great fan of Mr. Welk..Courtesy Channel 3: 50 Golden Years October 27, 1998..Copyright 1998 Gannett Co.

Information courtesy Wikipedia and Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia

Wikipedia page:

Very nicely done bio..

Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia

Another good bio


  1. Dick Goddard has told me about the switch in 1965, as I told him that I was living near Philly at the time and watch channel three there. Wally Kinnan was very popular in Philly and Goddard wasn't.

    Goddard told me that the two of them were good friends once he returned to Cleveland and discussed the switch many times while playing golf.

  2. Wally Kinnan had been with NBC for almost 20 years; first in Philadelphia, then in Cleveland. Now I know exactly why Dick Goddard made a special effort to come back to Cleveland in less than a month.

  3. Very nice biographical sketch. However, just a quick Tampa clarification for you: WTSP is channel 10, with channel 13 being WTVT. Having grown up in Tampa, I'm positive that Wally was on WTSP, as he certainly would not have displaced Roy Leep (Tampa's answer to Dick Goddard) on WTVT!

  4. WIKY:
    Joe Mosbrook, retired TV-3 reporter, has contacted me on occasion about blog entries..Here is what he said about Wally Kinnan in an email to me..

    Enjoyed your piece on Wally Kinnan. Here's one I did a few years ago forcusing on his music:
    Wally was a great guy. I worked with him in Philadelphia before we came to Cleveland. Despite his great popularity here, he was frankly even bigger in Philadelphia. When NBC and Westinghouse were forced to switch stations, Dick Goddard went to Philadelphia, but lasted only a few months there. I think the viewers missed Wally.
    Joe Mosbrook

    The article Joe refers to on Wally's music is excellent btw..He basically confirmed that Goddard was not popular in Philly..probably only because he wasnt Wally..It would seem NBC and Westinghouse could have forseen that Wally should have stayed in Philly and Dick In Cleveland and made an arrangement ahead of time..

  5. I think the main problem with Dick Goddard in Pa. was the same as mine. It wasn't home.

  6. What I'd really like to know is why in tarnation 3 demoted kinnan to weekends and then later fired him. It sounds to me that the things David Brinkley had to say about NBC after the Huntley-Brinkley report went off the air until he left for ABC may well have applied to NBC's management (or mismanagement) of channel 3.