Stormin' Bob Swanson

Blogging Bob

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s been 20 years since I released my CD, “Do the Weather Wiggle with Stormin’ Bob Swanson.” Reaching such a milestone has given me a nice opportunity to reflect on places I’ve been and people I’ve met who have helped me in my “singing weatherman” journey.

I think way back to a teaching colleague of mine, Debbie Jacobs, who coined the nickname “Stormin’ Bob Swanson” when I told her I was leaving my high school teaching job in Chesapeake City, MD (Bohemia Manor High School) to return to grad school, study meteorology and pursue my dream of becoming a TV weatherman.

At my first full-time TV job (KHBS-KHOG in Fort Smith, AR), friends of mine, Rick Carman and Jennah James, gave me early encouragement when I started writing songs about the weather for kids. Rick was possibly the first person to ever hear “The Weather Riddle Song” and “The Weather Wiggle,” and Jennah was one of the first friends to join me when I went out to play a weather show at a Fort Smith library.

First CD sale (1/29/2004) may have been to Eric Semmel, another friend from my Fort Smith days who I played music with.

As I continued to write songs, I started to listen to more children’s music. One CD I borrowed from the public library was Barry Louis Polisar‘s “Teacher’s Favorites.” I took a chance and reached out to Barry to ask if I could cover his song, “Water.” Not only did he give me permission — he asked to hear what I was doing. I sent him an early rough recording of my two-song repertoire. Not only did he give me great feedback, but he became a friend who would later provide valuable advice about the business end of being a children’s entertainer.

A few years later, when I was working at WJHL-TV NewsChannel 11, I played a set on the children’s stage at the Blue Plum Festival in downtown Johnson City, TN. After my show, a guy (Rob Chittum) from the audience came up and introduced himself. He told me that he had recently built a recording studio in his basement and was looking for projects. The rest is, as they say, history as we recorded the CD over the course of a couple of months during late summer/fall of 2003. I am forever grateful to Rob and his family for their patience, generosity and friendship.

My son, Daniel, shot the above video. It was some of the footage that he shot over the summer that was compiled into a documentary film, “Head in the Clouds: The Ballad of Stormin’ Bob Swanson.” I’m thrilled and flattered that he did such a great job in depicting what I do and why I do it. It is something that I foresee being shown on a loop when I’m sitting in a nursing home someday.

For those who have come to my shows, I am tremendously grateful. There is nothing like a live audience of kids, especially when they are excited to learn about science. And, of course, my greatest thanks go to my family — my wife and 3 boys — who have played such an important part in this project of a part-time job. I love you all!

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