Twenty-one years is a long time. Tom Brannon and I have worked side-by-side for over two decades at THV11. Tom announced his retirement from television earlier this fall, so I thought I would take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend, colleague and someone I greatly admire.
I will always remember the first time we met. I was in town interviewing for the station. The managers at THV wanted to see me do a “mock” weather cast with the anchors. I was so nervous to be on a new set, with new graphics, different lights and unfamiliar people I had only met a few seconds before! I vividly remember Tom being with me the whole time, making sure I was comfortable and answering all my many questions. He was so encouraging and supportive, and he’s not changed a bit since that first day in May of 1996.
Once I joined the THV11 team, Tom continued to guide me as I learned how to pronounce the names of Arkansas towns and counties, like Ouachita (I really messed up that one). Being a Cabot native, Tom also got me up to speed on big Arkansas weather events and helped me in every way possible.
Perhaps one of the highlights of my career, and likely his, was the launch of our new live radar on February 1, 1997. We worked hard learning this modern technology just to be ready for the next big storm, which didn’t take long to materialize. March 1, 1997, just one month after the radar was launched, Arkansas experienced one of its worst tornado outbreaks since the late 1960s. Tom worked the weekend shift at that time and I remember well the phone call we had that morning about the weather threat. It wasn’t long before we were working side-by-side for 8 hours straight, keeping our viewers informed. It was the first of many to come.
Another fond memory I have is the simple statement, “Ed, look out your window.” Those were the first words of a phone call from Tom I received around 3:00 a.m. on a cold February morning in 1997. Wow, now that I think of it, 1997 was a doozy! Coming to Arkansas from Houston, Texas, where it hardly ever snowed, I remember telling Tom, “I can’t wait to see snow,” but now I had to figure out how to get to work in 6 inches of the white stuff. I was in awe then; I’m over it now!
More than anything, it was severe weather events and tornado outbreaks that always brought us together and gave me the opportunity to work alongside a true professional. We always joked about “the passing of the microphone,” which happened many late nights when I would see Tom come in to take over coverage in the early morning. I was always so happy to see him walk into the studio! I will miss that. I could go on with almost 22 years of memories, but now is the time to say farewell to my friend and trusted colleague. I know I could not have done this job without his help.
Every Arkansan knows Tom is an extraordinarily giving person and will go above and beyond to help anyone. I’ve always tried to express to Tom how much I appreciate him and all he does for me and so many others, and now I say again…. best of everything, Tom, and thank you for touching my life and those of so many others.