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Stephanie Davis Smith | Photo: Derek Blanks | March 27, 2014
New to Atlanta—but not to the South—weatherman Sam Champion opens up.
On his new show:
Each day begins with the weather. People want to know what it’s like outside. Our new live show, [AMHQ With Sam Champion] is a return to original programming. Now there will be graphics happening in front of me and behind me that are all computer-generated—as if you’re living in a virtual world. We’re the first to do it. Your weather presentation has to be the most technologically forward it can be.
On returning to the South:
My whole family is from western Kentucky and Tennessee, but my dad was a lieutenant colonel, so we moved around a lot to Scotland, New England, etc. so my accent blended out. When I was a kid, my accent was so thick my parents’ friends laugh now that I’m on TV. There were some words that they had to coach out of me when I went into broadcasting. But I still have a Southern accent if you get a martini in me or I’m around other Southerners. When Robin Roberts and I are having a cocktail together, we might as well just be in Mississippi.
On what he’ll miss about New York City:
I’m going to miss my friends. But I’m going to be in New York once a month and they all promised they would visit.
On taking time off:
In TV, you don’t get a day off. That’s why taking that month off between Good Morning America and moving to Atlanta was so special. People asked, ‘Did you know what to do with yourself?’ Oh, heck yeah. I’m an expert at doing nothing! But when you’re lucky enough to do what you love, you don’t complain. Every day you go to work loving what you do. Most people don’t get that.
On wanting to be a weatherman:
When I grew up everyone sat in front of the TV at 6 o’clock—so much so that they invented TV trays so you could eat there. Who you were was defined by which of the three broadcasts you watched. All the guys who had these great jobs were foreign correspondents in London, Paris and Rome and I imagined they were out every night in these great places. I wanted to do that. My first job in TV involved making the weather graphics for the meteorologists. Networks had just rolled out computer graphics—before that, it was all on boards. I loved explaining weather visually to those who didn’t have a concept of what it meant. I could show you where the front was and what time it would come through your town. I was hooked. Now, our goal is to make it immersive.
On moving to Atlanta the same week as Snow Jam 2014:
We all kind of looked at each other and were like, ‘Well, of course, this is why you’re here.’ You couldn’t have planned it better. It’s like you’re leaving New York and coming to Atlanta and you’ll be the headline of every winter storm that moves across the country right away. But it happened. To me, it was a little something that said, ‘Yes, we’re in the right place.’
Shot on location at Mathews Furniture; Hair by Steve Hightower and Makeup by Devin Bryant, both for Steve Hightower Hair Salon