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Walking on Air
Drew Limsky | Photo: Derek Blanks | April 22, 2014
A popular Miami face, meteorologist Sam Champion weathers a change of scenery, but keeps South Beach close to his heart.
Sam Champion was so identified with Good Morning America and ABC that his announcement last year that he would be decamping to The Weather Channel raised more than a few eyebrows—and not just in New York. After all, he is as familiar on the streets of the Upper West Side and Chelsea as he is on the gym floor of Equinox and the restaurants on Lincoln Road in South Beach. “I’m going to miss my friends,” he says. “But I’m going to be in New York about once a month, and they all promised they would be here. We talk every day.” Champion is also keeping his Miami residence and plans to visit his adopted hometown as often as possible.
Now it’s time for a little Southern exposure, as Champion and his husband, artist Rubem Robierb, get adjusted to life in Atlanta where The Weather Channel and Champion’s show, AMHQ: America’s Morning Headquarters, is based. “My whole family is from western Kentucky and western Tennessee,” he says. “I still have a Southern accent. You just need to get a martini in me. It comes out when I’m around someone else who’s Southern too. When Robin Roberts and I are having a cocktail together, we might as well just be in Mississippi. When I was 6 years old, my parents had these friends who would come over, and I used to run around the house all excited—‘Hey y’all!’—and my accent was so thick they couldn’t understand a word I said. They laugh about me being on television now.”
If moving back to the South is a homecoming for Champion, it’s new territory for the Brazil-raised Robierb. He’d never set foot in Atlanta until Champion changed jobs, and Robierb had just seen his artistic career take off after considerable buzz at Art Basel last year. “Now he loves it!” says Champion. “He got to pick where we lived. I wanted Buckhead, the big house, the pool, the whole thing.” But Robierb, so at home in pedestrian-friendly South Beach, chose a hood with more texture and foot-traffic: Midtown. “It was the right decision,” Champion says.
Looks like, while our beaches and palm trees may not be around the corner from them anymore, Miami is never too far from their minds.