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Tom Longfellow, KARK's First Weatherman in 1954, Dies

The veteran broadcaster was 89. He had worked for the station in its early years into the 70s.
Tom Longfellow, writing in the temperatures on the weather board.
Tom Longfellow, writing in the temperatures on the weather board.
Tom Longfellow, 1950's, KARK Radio
Tom Longfellow, 1950's, KARK Radio
Tom Longfellow (2004 photo), KARK's first weatherman, has died at the age of 89. He presented the station's forecast from 1954-1959.
Tom Longfellow (2004 photo), KARK's first weatherman, has died at the age of 89. He presented the station's forecast from 1954-1959.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - KARK is mourning the loss of the station's first-ever weatherman.

Tom Longfellow, 89, was a true broadcaster from the industry's early years, cutting his teeth in radio (KHOZ-AM in Harrison and KARK-AM) before sinking them into the new medium of television at a time when KARK was both.

The year was 1954 when Longfellow first stepped in front of the cameras to give the forecast. His work had begun hours before in a time when computers weren't around to make it much easier.

"I'm not a meteorologist," Longfellow said in 2004 in a special KARK 50th Anniversary Special. "I used to drive to the U.S. Weather Bureau at the airport before each weather show and get briefed by the government meteorologist, and then I'd take some notes and put it in my head and then I'd race back to the studio....and I would put it in my own words." Longfellow continued, "The first weather board I ever had was a blackboard, a green blackboard and I'd draw the weather maps with the highs and lows and everything with a piece of chalk and that was it. Later it got real refined. One time we had a plexiglass weather board. I had to stand behind it and draw everything backwards and that was a real problem. I didn't do to well on that.

As part of his on-air duties, Longfellow also did live commercials in the days before they were videotaped.

Longfellow also did a one-hour daily cooking show with a local home economist called "What's Cooking," which showed the preparation of a meal from start to finish. The money shot for the show would be the presentation of the completed meal. In 2004, Longfellow recalled his most embarrassing live television moment when, at the end of one of the cooking shows, he dropped a platter containing a steak covered with potatoes and onions that went "splat all over the set and the studio."

When he left work as an on-air personality, Longfellow stayed with KARK for decades more as a salesman.

In 2005, Longfellow received the Arkansas Advertising Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Longfellow went on to help create the Arkansas Radio Network and worked for Citadel Broadcasting at the end of his career. He was a top salesman for its stations in the market.

In 2004, Longfellow said, "I have very fond memories. I'm glad I'm still a part of it 50 years later."

There's no word yet on funeral arrangements for Longfellow.
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