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Spencer Remembers: ‘Reno’s Weatherman’ is a big hit at Good Old Days Club meeting
by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist
Aug 22, 2008 | 3277 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Bertha and Tina, performing at John Ascuaga's Nugget, on a postcard from the collection of Dick Stoddard.
Dick Stoddard, weatherman at KOLO-TV Channel 8 in Reno, drew a record sized audience for his appearance before the area’s Good Old Days club at its August meeting at the Reno Elks Club.

To set the stage for Stoddard’s presentation long-time TV and radio personality Bob Carroll, who was the founding father of the G.O.D. club, said a few words about his high regard for Dick’s weathercasting expertise. He then turned the mic over to Dick’s mother, Betty Stoddard, for the actual introduction. Betty herself is an even longer-time media personality than her son, as she once ruled the roost locally both on radio and television. She commended her son for his long and successful career and said that she has been proud of him every day of her life.

Adding to the Carroll, Stoddard/Stoddard connection is the fact that when Bob Carroll first made the transition from a radio to TV anchor here, he worked closely with Betty who was also onboard at Channel 8 at the original location on East Fifth Street. At that time Betty was riding high in the ratings with her popular afternoon show, “Be My Guest.” Carroll also noted that not only was the Stoddard mater a charming personality on air but she was also one of the top salespeople at the station since she sold her own “spots” and always collected the check in advance.

Dick Stoddard is the beneficiary of probably the best media gene pool in the history of northern Nevada since his father, Bob, was one of the pioneer broadcasters in this area. I first met Bob Stoddard when his office was adjacent to mine on the mezzanine floor at the Mapes Hotel. Once I found that he actually did most of his own broadcasting from the rather small Mapes location it was easy for me to run the entertainers who appeared in the SkyRoom of the hotel next door for a quick on-air interview with Bob. To Bob’s credit, he would drop whatever he was doing and quickly set the entertainer at ease with his good-natured personality.

As each day passes in the present Dick resembles his late Dad more and more, however his personality is more like that of his fast-talking, hard-driving mother.

The gist of his presentation before the G.O.D. club was to screen slides of some of the highlights of his vast, world-class postcard collection. Some of his historic cards are one-of-a-kind relics from the past and he artfully arranged his slideshow to indicate what the Reno of yesteryear looked like and how it has evolved to its present day status.

One of the more intriguing cards showed some early day ice skaters in Reno and Stoddard, as he did through the entire show, challenged his audience to call out the locale of the ice on which the skaters were doing their thing. Most opted for Virginia Lake, Idlewild or the pond on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. After they all had their say Dick noted that the location was actually the Truckee River, which years ago used to see solid patches of frozen ice in its channel.

Adding to the entertainment of the presentation was the fact that Dick had stationed two historical experts, state archivist Guy Rocha and Nevada Historical Society docent Neal Cobb, next to the screen and they both would routinely correct Stoddard when it came to exact dates as depicted by the cards. One of the most antique was a shot purportedly of Myron Lake, standing beside the Virginia Street bridge (which he owned and for which he charged a crossing fee) when Reno was known as Lake’s Crossing.

During the entire show Stoddard kept up a steady patter and engaged in bon mots with many in the audience, including State Sen. Bill Raggio.

As Bob Carrol noted in his opening comments, it is felt that Dick Stoddard is “Reno’s Weatherman” since his forecasting expertise is bolstered by the fact that he has spent all of his life in this area and has first-hand knowledge of the vagaries of change in the weather that can occur almost momentarily when one lives on a high plateau surrounded by towering mountains.

Adding to Stoddard’s obsession with postcard collecting, he has an avocation that provides him the opportunity to moonlight when the occasion arises and that is as a disk jockey, performing for weddings and other events by dipping into his equally voluminous collection of fine recordings. One of the props he had on display for his G.O.D. club appearance was a tiny scale model of a classic jukebox.

For a youngster who probably grew up with a microphone in his hand instead of a rattle, the younger Stoddard has done his parents proud. In so doing he has promulgated the Stoddard broadcasting legacy to the far reaches of northern Nevada and the surrounding area.

Good job, Dick.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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