Dave Murray is 58 years old. Not that 58 is old, but it seems like he’s been on TV forever! I first met him while I was an intern in the Channel 5 sports department in 1979. He looked almost the same then as he does today— the guy never seems to age!
In his 35-plus years as a in television, he’s just about seen it all when it comes to weather. At 23, Dave became the first TV meteorologist in St. Louis. He then moved on nationally as the main weatherman on Good Morning America. For the past 23 years, he’s been the chief meteorologist at KTVI Fox 2. He’s warned us about tornadoes, floods and storms of all kinds; but this spring, along with his wife, Janis, he’s about do something he’s never done before: He’ll give his audience a weather report through the eyes of a little boy and on the wings of a magical talking hawk. Surprised? Befuddled? Confused? Don’t be.
The Murrays have written a children’s book, Graham and Jet Get Wet: The Wonders of Weather. The book is set for national release in May at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com. The story centers around a young boy named Graham whose swing set was destroyed by a falling tree limb during a thunderstorm. When he goes outside to look at the damage and starts to cry, a kindly hawk named Jet swoops in to console him and then takes him up into the clouds to learn about storms.
“The book has two goals: to entertain and to alleviate fear; and the best way to alleviate fear is through knowledge,” Janis explains. Before she moved to St. Louis, Janis served as a former CNN correspondent and television news reporter in New York, Boston and Detroit. Currently, she runs Murray Prep, a communications training company.
For the couple’s first book, Dave provided the science, while Janis came up with the story. Janis says she started writing last summer while relaxing in the swimming pool of their Ladue home. Dave did his part in a much more traditional way: sitting at a keyboard. He worked on the scientific weather fact ‘sidebars’ that run parallel to the story. Dave says for many years, he has talked with the parents of children who are terrified by storms, many to the point that they seek professional therapy. He was surprised to find out that there were very few books intended to help youngsters conquer their weatherrelated fears. “It’s always been our belief that if you know the mechanisms of these storms and you pay attention to the weather and the sky, you will be prepared way ahead of everyone else,” Dave says. “Once these kids really know what these storms are all about and how they can protect themselves, they are much better off—adults too.”
Janis and Dave sat me down on their living room couch, and she began to read me parts of the story in the same way a parent would read a book to their kids. “If a parent wants to read it before bedtime, it’s almost ‘Goodnight Moon-length,’ so they can go to bed. But if there is more time, there are sidebars about the details of the science, such as what is a cumulus cloud and what is a gust front?”
It’s obvious that Janis has put a lot of herself into the writing. She told me about her childhood—as a kid on her swing set looking up at the clouds and wondering what they were made of. In this book, she even finds a way to work in some motherly wisdom. “There’s a moral at the end for kids that you have to take the good with the bad: What storms tear apart, people can put back together if they help each other—that’s the part I really like.”
As for Dave, doing things like writing a book are all in a day’s work. He keeps himself extremely busy watching the sky and takes his responsibility very seriously. He says nobody feels worse than he does when he misses a forecast. “I live this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s all about the forecast and serving the folks of St. Louis, not only with the day-to-day weather, but especially during active weather, snow, thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
The book, which features illustrations by Tony Waters, is being published by Reedy Press of St. Louis. Dave is forecasting that if this one goes over well, there could be a whole series of Graham and Jet weather books. It appears that Dave, with a lot of help from Janis, could have a whole new career ahead of him. After all, he’s only 58 years old.