Lasher: Original friendly, chatty TV weatherman
Farmers and ranchers need to know about tomorrow’s weather because it affects so many things they do (or can’t do).
Schools like knowing tomorrow’s forecast as well as long range since it dictates preparations for operations in every department in a public education system.
That’s why several times a day, every day, most of us are glued to a radio or TV to get the latest weather update.
Newspapers, particularly dailies and other multiple days of publication in a week, carry fairly extensive forecasts. Radio and TV stations devote a significant segment of their news programming to weathercasts, TV complete with maps, charts and other data.
Television, of course, changed how we get the weather report. With TV, picking the right person to do the weather became significant. It has to be someone believable, who handles the techno-scientific aspects of our climate and who has the type of personality needed to attract viewers. Many stations use trained meteorologists.
In the blossoming of TV news and weather reporting in the 1960s-70s, there wasn’t an abundance of specifically trained individuals to do that. There was some quick-study training, but a good on-screen persona was as important then as it is today.
My all-time favorite TV weatherman was from those early times. Sid Lasher was Houston’s original friendly, chatty rain-or-shine man.
While it was easy to like Sid in his on-air job, it was even easier to care about such a nice, warm, considerate human being in person. He was immensely popular and in demand for public appearances at civic and charitable events.
And, Sid couldn’t say no. He worked a grueling schedule.
He was at the station before noon each day because, in those days, many weathermen performed a number of other functions, usually “hosting” some time slots with movies or other canned entertainment as well as being responsible for some technical control. Then, there were the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. weather reports to prepare as well as bulletins as needed.
Sid averaged a half-dozen or so public appearances a week on top of a 50-60 hour work schedule.
As an officer in a few civic and social organizations within my community as well as publishing a weekly newspaper, I often had need for not only programs for those groups, but also a “celebrity” to be the host or master of ceremonies. I asked Sid to host perhaps 4-5 events a year. He rarely declined....my group or any other public service organization.
Then, one day came word that Sid had suffered a mild heart attack. He would be away from his television job for at least a couple of months.
He was missed both on TV and in his many stints as headliner for public service/fundraising events. When Sid returned, the clamor for his presence at such functions did not let up. But, under doctor’s orders, the affable TV weatherman had to say a word he’d had trouble with before — no.
Those of us who’d used him to draw crowds to our fundraisers and functions, had to find other ways to fill the house.
However, there weren’t many with his drawing power available without some notice and some preparation. Of course, Sid worked for free, for the good will it created for his employer, KHOUTV, the Houston CBS affiliate. And, people with any drawing power for such events were beginning to command fees.
Within weeks after his return to the air, one night in the 10 p.m. news opener, anchor Ron Stone came on screen and announced that Sid had suffered another heart attack and died just minutes before air time. KHOU’s news team somehow managed through tear-blurred eyes to deliver the news that evening.
The original friendly, chatty TV weatherman went to meet his maker. It was a sad day for me, and I’m quite sure, for anyone who was drawn to his weathercast.