Hearne: Joe Lauria & The Strange Succession of KC Weather Wonks

20140504_183546Face it, television weather anchors are an odd lot…

Think about it.

Can anybody remember one who wasn’t? I mean, a successful, popular one. Yeah, there’s KCTV‘s Gary Amble who on the surface appears to be a regular guy. Until you remember he’s looney toon Michelle Bachmann‘s kid brother. Besdies, Amble’s not exactly wildly successful, given he barely lasted four years at Channel 5’s weather helm before being replaced by known nutball, Katie Horner.

Shall we continue?

Anybody remember that strange-seeming dude at Channel 9 and Channel 4 named Dave Dusik? Dusik left WDAF under a cloud after it was reported by a national business pub that he traded commodities using his TV weather predicting skills. Where do you suppose Dusik is now?  I can’t find him.

Or how about Dave Sweeney who abruptly parted ways with Channel 41 in 1997 after allegedly roughing up his wife? Sweeney bumped about for a while to Denver, Spokane and Portland, finally settling in as a weather wonk on OregonLive.com. Unfortunately for Sweeney, word of the charges here continued to follow him, but he’s alive and kicking and playing dress up in his online casts.



What of former Channel 5 weather wonk Mike Thompson who left for Channel 4 in 1991? Forget the Thompson’s ah-shucks schtick and questionable track record, remember in 2008 when he invoked the name of Adolph Hitler to diss climate change believers?

And what about  KMBC’s Bryan Busby, a respected weather wonk known at one point to have had a penchant for “the boats” and who keeps his personal life buttoned up tight…for a reason.

Do I even need to say anything about hair-on-fire meteorologist Katie Horner

Shoot, the most normal-seeming of the lot is KSHB’s Gary Lezak and he likes to let his dogs roam about the station and go on the air with him. And by weather dude standards, that’s pretty much the new normal.

4523633a1e733f3429a6f7a4a56b73a8Which brings us to longtime Fox 4 weather wonk Joe Lauria.

Although he’s been here 20 years, Lauria’s pretty much a forgotten man. 

Does anybody even remember that he and Bryan Busby were college roommates? Try wrapping your head around that one.

Lauria hit town in 1995 as Dusik was hot footing it out, and at first blush appeared to be a horn-rimmed, weather geek, a la Lezak. But Lauria didn’t have Lezak’s passion, like-ability, weather chops or canines.

Do a search of the KC Star library and Lauria’s name only comes up 22 times in 20 years. Most of which are incidental mentions, calendar items and the like.

Do the same for Lezak and you get 297 hits, Busby, 323, Thompson, 267 – even Amble triples Lauria’s numbers.

Still, to an extent, Lauria may be a household word but he’s also an enigma.


Lauria “Undercover”

Enter occasional KCC contributor Chuck Lowe.

“So I am having dinner at The Mix and I see Joe Lauria,” Lowe says. “He reads the paper for 20 minutes or so, checks out a hot chick up the street out the window.  No glasses. Checks out the room. No glasses. Ya know why?

“Dude looks like an evil super hero without glasses.  Heavy thick eyebrows.  Intimidating.  No kidding. I think the glasses are fake.”


For real?

“He is and appears to be a very nice person,” Lowe continues. “However when he takes his glasses off he looks like he just sold the nuclear launch codes to al Qaeda


Mr Burns

“I also think he looks like Mr Burns from The Simpsons without his glasses. I just thought that it was interesting that the man wears glasses and he might not need them. And the fact that with his glasses on, he looks like such a very nice person but when he takes them off looks like evil superhero. Go figure?”


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22 Responses to Hearne: Joe Lauria & The Strange Succession of KC Weather Wonks

  1. Jim says:

    Nary a mention of Cheryl Jones? For shame, Hearne. She was the breast……..errrrr….I mean the best of them all.

    • admin says:

      Good point, Jim…

      That was a long time ago but she was indeed a strange bird as well. I went to her house or portent one time to borrow a photo when I did a column on her and her entire living room (didn’t check the bedroom) was loaded to the gills with photos of herself from child on up. That Narcissus character was a dude, but he didn’t have anything on Cheryl Jones.

      And she played the pulchritude card to the hilt.

      I think it was tough on her growing older and losing her hottie edge. She made it on CNN for a bit and landed back at KCTV but had a lot of issues.

      For one, she’d messed up her body clock really bad by doing some really odd hours shows and had a really hard time getting back on track.

      And she was the guest of honor at a Plaza restaurant in the 1990s when – while having lunch with a married Max Floyd of KY102 fame – another woman (not Floyd’s wife) marched in, bought a quart of Caesar salad dressing to go – and threw the whole thing into Floyd’s face amidst a busy lunch hour crowd.

      Yep, she too was a strange one.

      BTW, she spells Cheryll with two Ls

      • chuck says:

        My story is boring as hell.

        The salad story is way, the hell cool.


        • admin says:

          The uh, salad DRESSING story, Chuck Man.

          There’s a lot more to that story by the way…as you can undoubtedly imagine.

  2. tiad says:

    Wow! Really, Jr.?

  3. the dude says:

    Weather people, strange lot they are.
    Who could forget Katie ‘sorry to interrupt your show but not really’ weather update wHorner.

  4. jj29 says:

    Apparently Cheryll has been hosting UFO events such as “Evidence in the Skies, Highlighting the O’Hare Incident”…whatever that is. This event was in beautiful Elmhurst Illinois. You can check it out here, or not.

    • admin says:

      I saw that too, JJ.

      I went to her website where she’s hawking whatever she has to hawk; emceeing gigs, media training,voice training,audio books – she’s got em all!

  5. Jack Springer says:

    Last week the Weather Channel was promoting the same protection that Katie used to promote — bicycle helmets, etc.

    Lezak and Busby are both supposedly gay. Why are so many weathermen gay?

    Lauria just gives me the creeps.

    The new guy on channel 5 just looks uncomfortable.

    • chuck says:

      When he interacted with the staff he was very pleasant.

      He should audition for some roles in Hollywood, if he tilts his head down and looks straight at you it is startling (Sans the glasses.).


  6. bigtimeharley says:

    what about your buddy busby? you know the stories….lets hear them.

  7. BrotherSunday says:

    Local news sucks so much ass. Terrible locally produced used car dealer commercials, terrible worthless stories. Unless there is a tornado warning, I don’t tune in at all.

  8. Hot Carl says:

    Ran into Lauria and his wife not long ago when we got seated with them for a meal. She was a nice lady but he was really a dick to her. After talking with them both for about 45 minutes I realized he’s an insincere tool who thinks he’s “somebody” because he’s a local weather hack.

    Knowing full well who he was I initially asked him, “What do you do for a living, Joe?” And then later I couldn’t help but throw out, “Now what was it you said you did?”

  9. TV/KC says:

    Interesting. Yep, Lezak is normal alright. Maybe in your rainbow world. Dusik replaced Jones at channel 9 to become the first bona-fide meteorologist to hit the air waves in this cowtown. His success was instant in a town hungry for a credible weather reporting. You had a choice back then, late 70’s and 80’s, slapstick with Dan Henry or find out what time your ass may get wet tomorrow. I remember during severe weather Dusik staying on the air with bulletins and radar until the threat was over while the other stations had long signed off. 9 owned that department back then. Dick Hocter the weather doctor was a nice guy but fell to the new wave of “professionals.” Neither channel 4 or 9 even mentioned his death several years ago and he was on the air at both places a long time. Is Dan Henry still alive? You never hear about him.

  10. Markus Aurelius says:

    As a kid I lived up the street from Dave Dusik and delivered the Dispatch to his house every Wednesday. His kid – probably 5-6 years younger than me ran that house like lord of the flies – I remember the kid screaming and bossing his mom, Dusik’s wife, around all the time. Strange family. Oh, and they never wanted to pay me the buck fifty for the paper.

  11. TV/KC says:

    maybe because they wanted you to go away

    and wtf does that have to do with TV weather?

    Dispatch: worthless rag

  12. Blue Lou says:

    Wasn’t Dusik accused to domestic violence also? He is still in KC to this day consulting for farmers and municipalities.

  13. TV/KC says:

    Yes, but his wife realized she went too far and never pursued it and it was dropped. BTW, they are still married. Know him from the grocery store up here.

  14. Opie says:

    Loony toon’s brother? S T F U ,.Honestly, you couldn’t even run a piece on a subject without your political bitterness. At least she didn’t kill any Vet’s lately like your boy. #Salty

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