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Forecast is good for Ira Joe

February 20, 1981

By Beverly Vorpahl
The Spokesman-Review

WKRP – No, no. Make that WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, known there as TV-12.

“I figured if it was TV-12, it had to be twice as good as Q-6, Ira Joe Fisher quipped over the telephone from his Cincinnati home. “It’s not twice as good, though,” he quickly added.

As KHQ-TV’s quick-witted weatherman with the improbable ability of writing backwards, Ira Joe accumulated more Spokane fans than any winter’s snowflakes he reported about. While he’s happy in the Ohio city, he and his wife, Michelle, have experienced pangs of homesickness for the Lilac City.

Those yearnings will be appeased next month when Ira Joe emcees the Variety Club-KHQ TV Telethon from the Davenport Hotel. A two-week vacation will combine business with pleasure – heading the March 14 to 15 event and visiting with friends and family.

In Cincinnati, he’s amazing a whole new group of viewers with his special mirror-image talent. The WKRC people built him a Plexiglas weather board for his reverse-drawn cartoons. “The board here is more sturdily built to accommodate my great bulk,” said the man who makes “pleasantly plump” a truly pleasant term.

When Ira Joe left last July, his Q-6 co-workers said they fully expected to see him on national television one day. That’s exactly his hope and the reason he ventured to Ohio to join the station that rates among the top 30 in the nation.

That, plus “I’m basically a greedy capitalist American,” he joshed, adding his paycheck is heftier back there.

Because his aspirations do indeed include network television, Ira Joe felt it necessary to move to a larger station where exposure is greater. Already, one NBC official has expressed an interest in his work, but hasn’t made an offer yet. “That fishing line is in the water, though,” he said.

No doubt the NBC fellow was taken with more than Ira Joe’s cartooning. That ever-constant smile is a hint of his humor, which pops up in weather reports and the clever articles he writes.

Ultimately, he would like to be “a writer of some impact – if not for anyone else, at least for myself.”

He’d consider it a plum if he could “find a position of roving reporter a la Charles Kuralt,” become another Andy Rooney on television (“My eyebrows aren’t bushy enough yet”), or attain the likes of E.B. White in the literary field.

He’s been honing his writing skills with articles for Cincinnati Magazine, like those he wrote for Spokane Magazine (he has another scheduled to run here in the March issue.)

He also does “whimsical essays” for the station, one of which told of his journey from Spokane to Cincinnati – driving through Montana where “there are so many cattle that you have to watch your step even in the parking lots;” through North Dakota, whose “only claim to fame is Lawrence Welk – that’s the state’s most attractive feature and he’s not all that attractive;” through Wisconsin, where he got a speeding ticket “and they made me pay it in cheese;” and through Indiana, which is “as flat as a writer’s wallet.”

He got a groundhog’s view of the territory by driving those miles, and declares he will never see it from a bird’s eye view. When he returns next month, it will be via train. Although he flew a lot during his Vietnam tenure, he didn’t like it and doesn’t intend to fly again.

While his fear-of-flying phobia isn’t groundless, it “isn’t anything too intricately psychological,” he said. “I’m just deeply afraid of heights, and it’s compounded when I get into an airplane.”

But back to earthly matters: Ira Joe so likes what he does that he’s amazed he gets paid for it.

It was almost a fluke that got him his start here. He was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base (“My life had been interrupted by the damned old military and I was getting ready to get back into civilian life”) when he decided to put to use the radio experience he learned as a high school student in his hometown in New York State. The day he applied for a position with KHQ was the day the station began looking for a disc jockey. He had no idea he would stay 10 years.

Ira Joe is emphatic about noting if he does indeed become a national household name, it will be largely because of luck. Stating he “didn’t mean to wax philosophical,” he said, “In this business, there are thousands of people waiting in the wings, as gifted or more so, waiting to do what we do.”

It’s a “humbling experience” to realize “how quickly we can be replaced,” he said.

Ira Joe believes being in the right place at the right time plays an enormous percentage in any selection process – that and luck add up to about 95 percent, he said, leaving talent as only a 5 percent factor.

Ira Joe is hoping WKRC-TV in Cincinnati will provide access to that big 95.

Friday, February 20, 1981

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From → KHQ

2 Comments
  1. Ira Joe was doing the weather in New York when I visited 16 years ago. He is a Northwest success story.
    What happen to the little girl who wanted to grow up to be “just like Nancy Goodspeed”? Did she?

  2. She became Stephanie Vigil.

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