In Memory of Steve Pool
November 26, 2023 at 10:11 a.m.
The team at Northwest Prime Time was saddened to learn of Steve Pool’s passing. He died one day before Thanksgiving. Steve, the longtime weathercaster at KOMO 4 News, died at age 70 after battling early-onset Alzheimer’s. The sad news brought me back to happier times, when I interviewed the utterly charming local legend for Northwest Prime Time’s January 2017 cover feature. Below we bring you that article.
In 2016, KOMO 4 News celebrated 40 years with Steve Pool. “That warm smile and familiar laugh, Seattle’s friendly forecaster,” proclaimed KOMO’s video tribute to Steve’s four decades at the station.
“Television has been quite a journey for me,” says Steve. “Frankly I never expected to be in the business. I thought I was headed to law school, but somewhere I got off track…or on track, depending on how you look at it. I graduated from Tyee High School in Seattle where I served as student body president. Following graduation, I attended the University of Washington majoring in Communications and Speech.”
Upon graduating in 1978 he began his long career at KOMO as a writer but was soon appointed to a reporter position.
In the mid-80s, Steve changed directions and became the station’s lead weather forecaster when he took over for the retiring Ray Ramsey. But first he went back to the University of Washington to receive specialized training in atmospheric sciences.
“Surprisingly, I found myself as one of the pioneering major market African American weathercasters in the country,” recalls Steve. “I was featured in Ebony magazine, much to the delight of my mother and father who still weren’t quite sure about the whole television thing. ‘Is that a real job?’ ”
Despite being best known as a weatherman, Steve had many steps along the way. “I wrote news copy for others to read. I did general assignment reporting, feature reporting, produced half-hour programs, weekend specials and a brief stint as a sports reporter,” he says. He also filled in a couple of times as a weatherman. “I really enjoyed it because there is no script. I was able to say things in a way that fit my personality, as opposed to reading something that was written by someone else. That little shift pretty much changed my life. One of the things I enjoyed about weather is that, hey this is something that affects everybody. Once I realized that, it really got me jazzed.”
In the '80s, Steve also began hosting the program Front Runners, a Saturday evening magazine show that became syndicated in markets around the U.S. and the world. It is one of the most awarded programs in Seattle television history with nearly 100 Emmys!
"The idea was to find young people all over the world who were doing interesting and outstanding things and doing so while overcoming significant obstacles." The show featured a wide range of guests from a paraplegic who learned to climb mountains to a seven-year-old Elvis impersonator who grew up to be Bruno Mars, the extraordinary singer and world-class entertainer.
Steve remembers another career milestone: “I had only been doing the weather in Seattle for about a year when my agent called with an interesting offer. The folks at Good Morning America in New York wanted to know how I felt about coming in to fill in when their regular weather person went on vacation. To say I was stunned is a huge understatement. My answer? Not just yes, but hell yah!” As it turns out, Steve did regular stints on GMA from the late 80s through 2011 and made many close friends there. “The added bonus was being on the set for the parade of celebrities that came through the studio.”
Steve’s own homegrown celebrity status is a fact. He has been featured numerous times in local publications, including twice gracing the cover of Seattle Magazine, and he’s been voted “Seattle’s Favorite Weatherman” many times. “My mother was very excited about the ink that I was getting. I told her that I am already on TV every night… she tells me, ‘Yes, but now you’re in a magazine and that’s really big!’ ”
He recalls going out with his wife, Michelle, when he took over as KOMO’s weatherman. “People will say, ‘Hey, Steve, how’s the weather?’ When I first started in the business, I thought people really wanted me to tell them, so I would launch right into it, ‘Well, tonight we’re going to have temperatures in the lower 40s…’ Michelle grabbed me and said, ‘You know, they are really just saying hello.’ ”
Steve believes that the Northwest thrives in part because people step up to help others in the community. He, himself, is well-known for the charitable work he does for many, many different causes, including Children’s Hospital. “It’s hard to believe, but it was more than 25 years ago that I did my first Seattle Children’s Hospital telethon.” During that time, he’s helped to raise nearly $74 million for the organization. In addition, he and his wife established a half-million dollar endowment to Seattle Children’s Hospital. What is his motivation? “Real people shaking your hand or giving you a hug and thanking you for making their lives better is an amazing experience.”
The list of organizations that Steve has been involved with is lengthy and amazing. “I’m pretty proud of it,” he admits modestly. “My mother kept after me to say, ‘Look, if you’re in the position to help people in your community and you have the resources to do so, it is incumbent for you to do so.”
“In many ways, I still think of myself as little Stevie Pool in South Seattle. I think about it a lot more with the passing of my mother and father,” he says with a tear in his eye. “They were very proud of me. And I was very proud of them. And there is no question that I could not have done this without their support.”
When asked about a touchstone moment in his long career, Steve didn’t hesitate. “Mount St. Helens was huge. I was so new to the business and this was the biggest story I’d ever heard of, running into the station and doing the coverage…that’s one that I will never forget.
Steve’s most embarrassing moment came when he was asked to announce that Red Skelton had died. “I was going to ad lib it. I came out of the weather and immediately went into it, and said, ‘A gentleman that I got to know through the years and I think is a marvelous star and a great performer passed away today, Red Skelton. He was 84 degrees.’ ” But then he made it worse. “The way Stevie’s brain works,” adds Steve, “I immediately said, ‘well, you do cool off when you die.’ ”
Although Steve has had many great career opportunities, he made the decision to stay in Seattle. “In terms of getting other offers, Yah, I got offers all over the place. But I still felt like what I need to do is stay here, build up equity here…and my family is here, my wife, my kids.”
“This journey so far has been so beyond what I ever dreamed of. Sometimes I do sit down and pinch myself… I can’t believe I’ve been able to do this. I am blessed to have an amazing wife. We’ve been together for 25 years and I still think she’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And my girls are looking at colleges now...I am the luckiest man on the planet.”
• The number one question Steve gets is: How come you don’t age? “For the record, I don’t do anything special here,” says Steve. “As my wife will tell you, half the time I’m washing my face with dishwashing soap!”
• Steve has published a book on Northwest weather called Somewhere, I was Right, a CD program called Fearless Public Speaking and a children’s program series called I Wanna Be, which provides positive information on a range of professions for kids to consider.
• On top of everything else, Steve is a great singer! You can see him performing several songs, including his Seahawks fan anthem Let’s Hear it for the Twelves on KOMO’s video tribute to Steve. Visit www. komonews.com and search “Steve Pool Celebrates 40 Years”
• Steve’s philosophy: Dream Often, Dream Big, Believe in Yourself, Do What You Love, Have Fun, Give Back When You Can & Never Give Up
Here is the announcement Steve's wife, Michelle, posted about her beloved husband:
I am here to share the sad news that my dear husband, my love, has passed away from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He fought this terrible disease privately for several years, and with every ounce of his being. He told me multiple times to "never count me out" and we never did. This past week it became too much and he passed away peacefully. We are so blessed to have had him in our lives. He was an extraordinary man, husband, father and good friend to many. Please know that he truly loved his job and this community and felt so privileged to be a part of your lives. You were all so good to him and thereby good to us. Our hearts are irretrievably broken. Please say a prayer for him and our family. Much love, Michelle and our daughters Lindsey and Marissa.