Being a weatherman wasn’t the plan.
“I was inspired by the work of Edward R. Murrow,” Steve Mumm said. “I was going to shine light in the dark corners of society and be this agent for change.”
So Mumm studied broadcast journalism at the University of Washington, then began following a path he thought would make him a modern-day Murrow, working at TV stations in Seattle and Yakima.
But once he became a TV reporter and covered a fatal car crash and a child abuse trial, Mumm quickly realized reporting on the dark, malevolent parts of human nature wasn’t for him. He didn’t have the temperament for it.
Reporting on the weather suited him just fine, though. During the Northwest Emmy awards Saturday, the former KXLY meteorologist was inducted into the Silver Circle of the regional Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
“I’m just flattered and delighted,” Mumm said.
Induction into the Silver Circle is reserved for those with more than 25 years of broadcasting experience in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Alaska. Individuals who receive the honor “are the best and brightest” in broadcasting and “have extensive public service, mentoring, leadership and professional accolades,” according to the Academy of Television Arts and Science website.
Several Spokane TV regulars have earned induction into the Silver Circle over the years. Tom Sherry, Mumm’s longtime meteorologist counterpart at KREM, was inducted last year.
Mumm began working at KXLY in 1985, delivering the forecast to viewers in his hometown.
“The weather is usually not bad or tragic,” Mumm told The Spokesman-Review in 1985. “It’s just there.”
Covering the weather combined perfectly Mumm’s love of science and extroverted personality.
His forecasts were popular. An Inlander readers’ poll in 1994 named him the city’s favorite weathercaster.
Mumm enjoyed being one of the most recognizable faces in Spokane and having people come up to him in public to talk about the weather, even when that entailed having strangers tease him about forecasting a sunny day that turned soggy.
“They always acted like they knew me, if only from the screen,” he said. “Everyone wants to talk about the weather.”
There were two main goals Mumm had in mind whenever he went in front of the wall – the green screen weathercasters stand in front of when they point to storm clouds or heat wave graphics.
“I wanted to make grown-ups laugh, and be loved by children,” Mumm said. “(And) I wanted to have people have an understanding of the processes that were creating this weather. … I loved explaining the ‘why’ and trying to put that in real user-friendly terms.”
Since getting out of the weather business in 1996, Mumm has had a few jobs.
He’s still a real estate broker, mainly selling homes on Priest Lake, where he lives during the summer. He also has a commercial art business – he owns the rights to certain artistic images, and people can purchase the right to use those images commercially.
He is married to Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm.
Steve Mumm’s proud of the TV work he did after KXLY. He was an interviewer for Comcast Local Edition and Newsmakers, which profiled Eastern Washington leaders.
Newsmakers ran five-minute interviews of elected officials, nonprofit directors, tax preparation experts, nutritionists and food bank leaders, to name a few. Mumm did hundreds of Newsmakers interviews for five years, stopping in 2014.
The importance and local fame of weather forecasters has waned since the 1980s and 1990s. These days people can know the seven-day forecast just by reaching into their pocket and pulling out their phone, which means fewer people are tuning in to see someone like Mumm tell them whether they should have an umbrella at the ready tomorrow.
Mumm acknowledges that the industry has changed, but he still thinks there’s value to having someone go on TV and explain the weather with some flair.
“I think that sort of personal touch is important,” he said. “I’m just very glad I did it when I did it.”
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