WGN’s Skilling: Grateful ‘beyond words’ for 10-year deal
Humble and self-effacing as always, Tom Skilling said he was “beyond words” in expressing gratitude for his 10-year contract extension as chief meteorologist at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9.
Confirming a report here Wednesday, Skilling told the Chicago Tribune he’d committed to another decade at the station where he’s been a franchise player since 1978. If he works to the end of the contract in 2022, Skilling will be 70 years old and will have reigned as king of Chicago weather for 44 years.
Terms were not disclosed, but Skilling is believed to be the highest paid local weatherman in the country, with a million-dollar salary and 12-person staff. Skilling’s last contract was a six-year deal signed in 2006.
Here’s what Skilling told the Tribune in an audio interview posted on its website Thursday:
“Oh, my word. You know, this was something that always happened to somebody else. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that this would ever come to pass. I’m so delighted. I’ve worked going on 35 years at Tribune, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.
“Actually, I was the one who asked if it would be possible to work beyond 65 — at least to put in for that. And I was surprised there was a positive response. Now to have a 10-year deal and to know that I’ll finish my career at a station I’ve worked at and have loved so for the last 35 years is such a thrill.
“Years ago I remember looking at Jack Brickhouse and Wally Phillips and the giants of years gone by and thinking, ‘Wow, you know, that’s amazing,’ and admiring them so for what they had done and all, and thinking you know, it never even crossed my mind that I’d be in a position that I’d have a 10-year deal.
“So to work in Chicago, which I think is probably one of the most exciting weather markets in the world and with people I like — because I like Chicago, I love the city. I find its weather absolutely fascinating. And this is a fascinating era in meteorology. I mean, we’ve got important issues on the table. We talk about climate change. The weather is so interesting. Look at this winter we’ve gone through and this summer and all. It seems like every time we turn the corner, there’s something interesting and unheard-of happening. So it’s a fascinating time in meteorology.
“So I am beyond words on the whole thing. And I’m grateful.”