When KUSI TV’s Paul Rudy interviewed Dave Scott before Scott’s March 27 farewell broadcast, Rudy jokingly said the station’s meteorologist was just a few days away from his sunset.
But the sun actually is rising on another longtime passion of the weather forecast veteran of 30 years. Scott, who turns 65 this month, is going to devote his full attention to his other career — in music.
As a boy growing up in Hawaii, Scott saved his newspaper route money to buy a trombone from Trummy Young, who played trombone with Louis Armstrong’s band of Armstrong’s All Stars.
Before his weather career, Scott played jazz trombone gigs around San Diego, where his family relocated when Scott was in high school. He performed in the ‘70s and beyond with the Fro Brigham Preservation Jazz Band in downtown San Diego. He also played for several years at the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero five nights a week.
One day, after the birth of CNN in 1980, a corporate decision was made to install big-screen TVs in the lounge where Scott performed. “We were replaced by CNN, and it made me stop and think,” says Scott, who realized it was time to develop a second career.
A fan of science and a longtime admirer of local TV personality and weatherman Bob Dale, Scott decided that weather reporting was what he wanted to do.
In fact, Scott’s signature bow ties, worn for two decades, were a tribute to the late Dale, known for his handmade bow ties. Even after switching to regular ties, Scott continued to wear a bow tie on Dale’s birthday. He resurrected his bow tie for his farewell KUSI broadcast on March 27.
Scott started learning the business by interning with Wilbur Shigehara at the local office of the National Weather Service. He also interned at Channel 10 (in sports), K-pop radio and worked at the student-run News Scene newsroom at San Diego City College.
Armed with a videotape of his performances, Scott landed a job as a weatherman in Yuma, Ariz., followed by six weeks of forecasting in Tucson before KUSI in San Diego made him a job offer.
In fact, it was at a little coffee shop in Yuma that Scott got an education from Imperial Valley farmers that drove home the critical need of accurate weather reporting for their crops and their livelihoods.
“When I got back to San Diego, I always kept that lesson with me,” he says. Rain, temperature, wind speed and other weather factors are critical to landscapers, golf course operators, roofers, airline pilots, boat operators, event planners and many other occupations. Forecasting needs to be accurate.
In 1997, Scott completed his certification in broadcast meteorology, followed by a geosciences degree, and in 2001 was awarded his seal of approval in Broadcast Meteorology from the American Meteorological Society.
Scott produced weekend morning and evening weather segments for years, plus he did news reporting and developed his own shows.
His “On the Edge” series covered local breakthroughs in science and technology. For nearly three years he produced and hosted “More of the Wild,” animal stories with the San Diego Zoo’s animal ambassador, Joan Embery. In recent years, “Dave’s World of Wonder” segments have provided glimpses of interesting or unusual San Diego people and places.
He chose the name largely for its acronym, “WOW,” which is the reaction he hoped to elicit from viewers. He estimates he has produced 5,000 to 6,000 of these 3- to 4-minute mini-stories.
Contrary to some folks’ description of San Diego’s weather as “boring,” Scott never viewed it that way. Fascinated by the underlying science, he delved into related phenomena — El Niño, Santa Ana winds, erosion, mysterious light streaks across the sky, meteors, eclipses, grunion runs, red tides, bioluminescence, king tides, marine layers, sinking air, the formation of fog, green flashes and snow in the county’s mountains.
“In Fashion Valley, I was in waist-high water more than once reporting from flooded areas,” he recalls. In 2008, he covered a tornado that touched down in Poway. He also covered a waterspout coming into the Carlsbad area. If San Diego’s weather was tame, he talked about storms elsewhere in the nation.
Among his news career highlights:
He was in La Jolla Shores interviewing SDSU geologist Pat Abbott about erosion when a huge chunk of coastal cliff broke away.
Carol Channing taught him to tap dance during a WOW interview.
After he reported on Frankie Laine’s life, the crooner, who lived in Point Loma, occasionally dropped in and took the mic in one of Scott’s band sessions.
At the Zoo, Scott found himself in the trunk of an elephant and wrapped up in a boa constrictor.
He developed lasting friendships with golfers Lee Elder and Billy Casper.
He found Robin Williams, who participated in annual charity cycling events here, to be one of the funniest — and easiest — interviews.
“I stood there and didn’t have to say much … Robin would just grab the mic and start talking.”
Scott was fascinated to share the stories of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and test pilot Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.
Perhaps his greatest admiration is reserved for the military heroes of the “greatest generation.” He interviewed World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors Stu Hedley and Ray Chavez, who died at age 106, and Jerry Yellin, credited with flying the final Pacific combat mission in World War II.
Scott is convinced it is important to remind people of the sacrifices the military made to preserve our freedoms.
For now, Scott and his band members are playing Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Nick & G’s Restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, Wednesday at Hacienda Casa Blanca in El Cajon and Friday at Chico’s in Escondido.
Scott says he’ll miss his KUSI “family,” but his goal now is to compose big band and orchestra music and record additional albums. His previous albums include “In a Fog” and “Partly Sunny Day” (notice the weather connections).
“I’m going to do a Christmas album (in addition to his ‘Christmas With You’ CD available on Amazon), a Latin jazz album and a big band album,” promises the songwriter/ composer.
“The new ‘World of Wonder’ for me will be wonderful little stories with their own soundtracks.”