After about 40 years of forecasting the weather throughout southeast Texas and the Brazos Valley, KAGS Chief Meteorologist Bob French is retiring.
French made his last broadcast on Friday. A celebration was held on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Guaranty Bank building in Bryan, where his coworkers, friends, family and members of the community gathered to honor his accomplishments. Texas Representative John Raney and U.S. Representative Bill Flores also recognized French and gave him flags that flew over the Texas State Capitol and the U.S. Capitol.
French started working as a radio and television weatherman in his hometown of Beaumont in 1980. He later moved to the Brazos Valley and became the Chief Meteorologist for KBTX-TV in Bryan in 1990, where he worked until 2013. French has worked with KAGS for the past five years.
French said he developed an interest in weather from a young age after experiencing multiple hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. French said he got to check off an item on his bucket list in 1985 by flying into the eye of a hurricane and has continued to learn and watch technology develop throughout his career.
“Over the course of my career, I’ve seen so many changes in weather forecasting,” French said. “Not just faster communications to warn people about severe weather, but also computer modeling which has helped forecasting become more accurate.”
French also mentored many now-successful meteorologists, several of which visited him on Saturday.
“All the years that I’ve worked up here, having students from A&M as interns, and so many of them have gone on to bigger cities,” French said. “I’m real proud of them. I feel like a proud papa.”
Throughout his career, French has visited schools with his guitar to educate students with songs about weather. He said he would like to continue to visit schools after retirement.
“I just think if you add music to anything, it embellishes it,” French said. “I figured that if I took my guitar and added music, those kids were going to remember more about what we talked about in weather. I’ve got six or eight of those big Rubbermaid bins packed full of t-shirts from schools over the past 30 years.”
French studied meteorology at Texas A&M before leaving school to pursue a career as a singer and songwriter. He later received his degree in mass communications from Lamar University. French said he wants to continue playing music after retirement and hopes to pen a hit song eventually.
“My biggest fan was my dad,” French said. “After he passed away five years ago, it was really hard to sing at first.”
Christopher Nunley will become the new chief meteorologist at KAGS and has worked with French for the past three weeks. He will do his first weather forecast alone on Monday.
Nunley studied at the University at Oklahoma and received his M.S. and PhD. from Mississippi State University (MSU). Nunley then taught and published research at MSU for four years before moving to Albuquerque to work at CBS affiliate KRQE. Nunley is from Texas and said that he looks forward to working in the area because of the variety of weather.
“[French] is a legend, not only in Southeast Texas but pretty much the entire state,” Nunley said. “It’s been a really good experience to work with him and learn a little bit about the area from Bob, but also just to learn about him, his wife and his grandkids. It’s been a really fun time, and I feel like it’s made the transition a lot easier.”