Originally published Aug. 8, 2013.
Before Paul Poteet was on the airwaves of radio stations across Indiana, he was on the airwaves of Huntington North High School.
"It had a functioning broadcast radio station - 920-watt radio station - and an active radio program, which was not completely common, certainly not at that time in a lot of high schools," says Poteet, a 1981 graduate of the school. "For whatever reason, that was one of the high schools across the state, and there weren't that many, that happened to have one of those programs."
It helped set Poteet, an Andrews native, down a path that's seen him become a mainstay in Indianapolis as a personality on radio, television and the Web. He will be the grand marshal of the parade during Andrews Summer Festival, which takes place Aug. 16 and 17, in Andrews.
"The city does seem really small when I go back," Poteet says. "I'm like, ‘Man, it didn't seem this small when I was growing up.'
"Maybe it's just because I was smaller."
As Poteet grew up, so did his interest in radio, leading him to the high school's station and jobs at a locally-owned radio station in Huntington and at WMEE in Fort Wayne.
Poteet met his wife, Joyce, while working in radio in Fort Wayne and the two of them moved to Indianapolis in 1982.
"The nature of our business is it's easier to make more money in a larger market," Poteet says of the relocation.
Poteet's wife helped him land his first radio job in Indianapolis the same year they moved there and he's been expanding his workload ever since.
Poteet branched into TV in the '80s - a move he says happened "accidentally." He was a booth announcer for a TV station, and management invited Poteet to audition for an on-air position when one opened up.
"Much to my surprise," he says, "I ended up getting the job."
The nature of Poteet's television presence evol- ved in the '90s when, in the latter part of the decade, he became a weatherman.
"The station that I worked for at the time, the TV station, sent me and another weatherman kind of to a ‘weather school.' It was online, we did it virtually, but we did a three-year course. So, I actually ended up becoming a meteorologist late in life, in my 40s," he says.
Meteorology is still a part of Poteet's life, though working at a TV station is not. Four years ago, he was staring down the prospect of starting a new schedule that would interfere with his radio work. Poteet decided to leave TV and become an independent media content provider, working out of his home.
"I just decided, ‘You know, I think I can do this. I think I can go out and get some other radio stations and do other work,'" he says.
It's a gamble that's paid off. Poteet has dubbed his operation "Studio B" - for "bedroom" - and dubbed himself "Indiana's Weatherman." He provides content for six different radio stations across the state, as well as websites like The Indianapolis Star's.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
"When I was growing up, my dad, who was a really, really hard worker and a really productive guy, he always had a couple of jobs ... and it ended up working out pretty well for him," Poteet says.
He's followed his father's example. In addition to his work as "Indiana's Weatherman," Poteet hosts the "Smiley Morning Show" on WZPL in Indianapolis, a radio gig he's had for the last 16 years; he co-anchors "Pet Pals TV," a syndicated TV show about pets and their owners that can be seen in Indiana and surrounding states; and he does corporate voiceover work.
"If you come to the zoo in Indianapolis and go to the dolphin show, you'll hear me," Poteet shares.
His work isn't limited to the media, though, as a year and a half ago Poteet purchased from an old colleague a company called Forensic Meteorology that does work for insurance companies.
"Insurance companies a lot of times will need to have weather data verified, like if somebody's claiming hail damage or lightning damage, or that they slipped and fell in a certain place because of ice or snow, because of the money involved, and maybe paying damages and whatnot, it's worth it to them to hire a meteorologist to go back and gather all the data and come up with a conclusion as to what the weather was probably like," Poteet says of the company.
Overall, he's satisfied with how the latest phase of his career has turned out.
"I've done pretty much what I'd hoped to do when I left the television station," he says, "because I still work with major outlets, but I'm not tied down to any one of them."
Going forward, he jokes, "I guess my next goal is how I'm going to retire gracefully."
Poteet says being attuned to the latest trends in his field, such as the rise of social media, has helped him stick around for as long as he has.
"Tried to use technology as much as possible," he says.
"I was kind of an early, among TV people, kind of an early adapter of Twitter and Facebook and stuff. When I left the TV station, I was able to pretty much tell people what was going on, remind them of the places I was at, where they could still find me. I've been able to get a bit of a following online as well as on the air."
Poteet says he has seen many peers who didn't acknowledge the way their line of work was changing and are now no longer a part of it.
"There aren't a lot of people who were on the radio when (my wife and I) first moved down here that are still on the radio," he says. "I can count them on one hand - and two of them are Bob and Tom.
"It's hard to get the public to pay attention to you for that length of time, so I'm kind of proud of surviving, if nothing else."
The sight of him riding through Andrews as part of a parade would've been humorous to his parents, Poteet says.
"I wish this had happened a couple years ago; mom and dad were still around and I'm sure would have gotten a big kick out of that - if they believed that it was actually happening. I would have to convince them," he jokes.
"‘They're not really having you, are they?'"
Even so, Poteet is excited by the prospect of returning to his hometown.
"I'm looking forward to it," he says. "It's been too long."