FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Chief Meteorologist Jesse Walker has become a household name in the Wabash Valley, but growing up in West Terre Haute, he wasn’t initially drawn to the spotlight.
“It’s funny how I got into this business. I was really, really shy when I was in school, so television was never something I thought about,” Walker said. “I was taking a non-credit weather class at ISU, and the professor knew the people here at the station, so we came here for a tour.”
It was mentioned during the tour that the station was looking for a weatherperson. After some encouragement from his classmates, Walker decided to give it a try. He worked at the station for 2 1/2 years while in college, and then accepted a full-time position after graduation.
Thirty-five years later, he is known as one of the most trusted weather sources in the Wabash Valley.
“When I speak at career days, I tell the students, I say, ‘never say never, you never know where you’re going to end up,'” he said.
Former Good Day Live host Julie Henricks said when she started in the “weather side of the business,” she was Walker’s competition.
“Even though I was competition, he helped educate me,” she recalled. “Instead of wanting to see me fail, he wanted to see me succeed. It solidified the kind of person that he is.”
Everyone who has ever known or worked with Walker has a similar story to tell.
“It was fantastic to start here with Jesse,” WTWO/WAWV Meteorologist Dan Reynolds said. “I had been in the area, I had watched his weather, and I knew this guy knows what he’s doing.”
A word often used to describe Walker is “humble.”
“Jesse is a boy from West Terre Haute who was raised to be humble and kind,” Henricks said. “I think that part of him has always shown on the air. I think viewers feel a connection to him. I think they feel they can trust him. But more importantly, they like him.”
Much has changed in the industry since Walker first started.
“We had a metal wall, we stuck magnets to it,” he said. “The internet wasn’t even around. We had a wire copy system that would bring in weather information.”
Walker noted one of the biggest advancements he has seen is the development of Doppler Radar.
“When I started, we’d come on and say, ‘hey, it’s going to rain tomorrow,’ and that was your forecast,” he said. “Now we can say, ‘hey, it’s going to rain between 2 and 4, it’s going to peak at about 5. There’s going to be a line of storms. There may be some hail, maybe some wind, and you’re going to get this much rain. So the technology in my time has been a tremendous upgrade.”
Being from the area, Walker said, has been an advantage for him in his career.
“Even before I started working here, I was used to the weather patterns, the weather conditions we had,” he said. “I tried to hone my skills on forecasting what was going to happen in this area.”
For Walker, the weather isn’t just his job, it’s what he loves to do, and he said it is the challenge to always do better that keeps him going.
“I get as much enjoyment coming into work today as I did when I first started,” he said. “I enjoy what I do. This is my life. Weather is what I love to do.”