It might have been doing the weather in a hot-air balloon. Or dropping Taylor Swift references during a newscast.
Either way, Woodbury resident Chris Shaffer has a new award for his mantle.
Shaffer on Saturday took home the Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for best weather anchor. It was the first time he entered the competition, after friend and WCCO reporter Jason DeRusha urged him to give it a shot.
“I was never driven as an award kind of guy,” he told Patch during a wide-ranging interview Wednesday. “I liked the party. I should have gone to the parties over the years.”
A former deejay at several Twin Cities radio stations, Shaffer often tries to work musical references into his broadcasts.
“And I try to make them make sense,” he said. “Not: We’re going to have some snow, Band on the Run.”
Hearing the applause from his peers during the award ceremony at the State Theatre was “heartwarming,” Shaffer said, and it was nice to share the evening with his WCCO coworkers. (The station took home a dozen awards.)
“We’re like a big family,” he said.
The Early Forecast
Shaffer, 42, said he always wanted to be a meteorologist.
He noted three things that led to him pursuing the profession: his great uncle was killed by lightning; he saw a tornado firsthand as a 6- or 7 year-old; and he once had to spend the night at a church after being caught in a blizzard.
And television was always the goal.
“I didn’t want to be in the Arctic studying seals,” he said. “I wanted to inform people about the weather.”
Being on television, people often come up to him to chat about the weather, which Shaffer said he enjoys.
“I’m a people person,” he said.
But there’s one subject he shies away from: global warming.
“When people ask me about that, my wife will literally pull me away,” Shaffer said. “It’s not a two-minute conversation.”
‘I’ve heard that a million times’
As might be expected, people don’t mind telling Shaffer when he’s wrong about the weather. “Constantly,” he said.
“You get paid to be right half the time,” Shaffer said. “I’ve heard that a million times.”
“I usually just laugh,” Shaffer said.
In a perfect world, Shaffer, who has lived in Woodbury since 1999, said he would like to retire at WCCO, and hasn’t considered taking a job elsewhere.
“People ask whether I would go to New York or L.A. or Chicago. I would turn that down to stay here,” he said. “It comes back to the family thing.”
Shaffer's family and friends are from Minnesota, and his grandmother watches him on the news each night. So do his wife and three daughters—ages 10, 10 and 9 (he has twins)—during the 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. newscast.
“They can have dinner with dad,” Shaffer said.
He said it might be interesting to do the weather in Oklahoma (tornadoes), Florida (hurricanes) or even San Diego (“I could surf”).
“None of it would be as fun as doing it here,” Shaffer said.
Asked to recall interesting moments during his time on the air, Shaffer pointed to pranks his coworkers pulled on him.
“It’s just a real moment—you’ll see the color coming to my face and a wide smile,” said Shaffer, a Stillwater native.
He was once doing the noon broadcast when his chair slipped out from under him and Shaffer was forced to crouch when the camera came back to him.
“That stuff happens a lot,” Shaffer said.
It’s those experiences Shaffer said he will look back on when his time on the tube is done. He said he could nail the forecast perfectly for two months in a row, but it’s the fun side of the job—hanging with anchor Frank Vascellaro during a cabin series—that will stick with him.
“That’s the stuff people will remember forever. And so will I,” Shaffer said.