TV Weatherman Pastor

For two decades, Steve McKay has been telling TV audiences his best guesses about the impending weather, but he's also a United Methodist pastor who tries to help folks see the future on their spiritual journeys. Both jobs require similar skills it seems.  Reed Galin reports.  

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(Locator: Bangor, Maine)

(Steve McKay on TV) "I bring with me puddles, puddles very soon in our forecast."

As the weatherman at Channel 2, in Bangor, Maine for 20 years, Steve McKay expects the joking that's part of every TV weatherperson's life in public…

(Restaurant owner greets Steve at counter) "Today's good. But you want to explain to me Friday morning?"

…but Steve gets an extra dose…

Steve McKay: "I prayed really hard about it but it just didn't work."

(Steve McKay doing weather) "Your highs for tomorrow should be warmer than today."

…because Steve McKay is also Steve Smith, Pastor of Orono United Methodist Church.

(Steve McKay on TV) "Friday, we'll talk more about the timing of incoming rain."

Steve McKay deals in practical predictions about the very immediate future. Steve Smith is about a lifelong spiritual journey.

(Steve leads group reciting  prayer) "And forgive us our trespasses."

(Steve Smith speaks to church group) "Your faith tends to wane at times, right? Being in this human condition we experience highs and lows."

There are metaphors galore.

(Steve McKay on the news) "Into each life, a little rain must fall." (Co-anchor) "Is that how you're selling this one?"

It's Maine. Conditions change quickly. Like life.

(TV weather clip) "Look, winter's here!"

Chris Facchini, WLBZ-2 News Anchorman-: "I like to think of him as kind of the moral compass of the newsroom in a way."

Steve Smith: "The issues you deal with as a pastor are much deeper compared to perhaps a TV personality. Weather is important here in Maine. People want to know that what they're watching is accurate…"

(Student asks a question) "Do you have like a satellite that's up somewhere that gives you the weather?"

Steve Smith: "…but that's a different level than someone who's dealing with a life crisis."

(Steve greets church member) "How's your husband?" Church member: "Same." Steve: "Okay to come see him?" Church member: "Oh, he'd love to see you." Steve: "I'll be there."

Steve Smith: "When somebody hears that I'm a meteorologist and a pastor they will often say, 'Oh my gosh, two such different things.' But, they actually share a lot of commonality. For example, as a meteorologist you're into research, and then you're communicating the weather story in the same way a pastor takes a piece of Scripture, looks at the context and then it's all about delivering the sermon as a storyteller."

(Steve in church) "The name of the message today is "a safe place" and we'll be talking about that."

Steve Smith: "Both occupations are really dependent heavily on being an effective communicator."

Steve thinks of his professions as complementary, not separate lives, though it can be tricky in how others relate to him.

(Steve Smith to coffee shop owner) "There are some people that are surprised when I'm at the hospital praying with them, and they look up at me and say, 'Why, aren't you the TV weatherman?' And I explain well, 'I'm a pastor too,' 'Oh I thought you were just the TV weatherman going around praying with people.'" (laugh)

(Steve playing trumpet)
Faith. Science. Steve is not confused.

(Steve putting on makeup on TV set) "I really enjoy both jobs. I have more of a passion for the ministry." (Interviewer) "So, you use this in front of the church, too, right?"  Steve: "What's that, the makeup? Nah! They like me just as I am at church." 

Steve Smith: "If I couldn't do the ministry that would be very, very difficult.  If I couldn't do the TV? I think I'd be okay."

(Church member to Steve) "I enjoyed your message." Steve: "All right, well I appreciate you're being here."


You can watch Steve McKay's weather forecasts nightly on WLBZ in Bangor, Maine.

Or hear Steve Smith preach on Sundays at Orono United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Fran Walsh at 615-752-5458.

This story was first published on November 13, 2014.