Boston TV’s first weatherman, Don Kent, dies

As a kid in Quincy, Mass., I grew up listening to and later watching Don Kent’s weather forecasts. I remember many a snowy morning, listening to the Quincy radio station, WJDA, hoping to hear that the snow had caused Quincy schools be closed for the day. I was sad to read that he had passed away.

Don Kent began doing weather reports for WBZ radio in 1951 and joined WBZ-TV in 1955. He stayed with the TV station until he retired in 1983.

The Patriot Ledger, Mar 03, 2010, By Allison Manning:

QUINCY — He was the guy New Englanders turned to before heading to the beach for the weekend, or battening things down before the next storm.

Boston’s first television weatherman, Don Kent, died early Tuesday. At 92, he was still predicting the next day’s weather.

Weather was always a hobby for Kent, who grew up on Hamden Circle in the Wollaston section of Quincy. That hobby turned Kent into one of the most familiar personalities in Boston TV history. He spent 28 years as the face of weather for WBZ-TV.

“He was right. He knew,” Quincy historian and former neighbor Tom Galvin said. “And he was in weather his whole life.”

Kent did some of his earliest broadcasts atop Kent’s Carpetland, the business he and his brother, Roger, owned on Quincy Shore Drive. He built a little office there and, in 1947, between rug sales, began forecasting for WJDA in Quincy.

Everyone believed what Don Kent said, even if his tools were a bit rudimentary, Galvin said.

He recalled Kent saying, “(Meteorologists today) spent all these millions of dollars on satellites and ships and computers to predict the weather. I used to just open the door of that little shed and put my finger out.”

WBZ radio hired Kent away from his makeshift office in 1951. He joined WBZ-TV in 1955.

Retired Channel 5 meteorologist Dick Albert remembered visiting Kent at WBZ as a kid. He said Kent was his inspiration, and Albert would keep a diary of Kent’s forecasts and their accuracy.

“I was glued to every broadcast of his,” Albert said.

Kent wasn’t talking to a camera, Albert said. He was talking to the viewer. He told gardeners what days they didn’t need to water their beds. He let beachgoers know when to pack sunscreen. And he let his fellow sailors know what direction the gustiest winds would be coming from, all in his thick accent.

“He related to what people did,” Albert said. “He had a great way of relating the weather to how it was going to affect every aspect of the community around them.”

After retiring from WBZ in 1983, Kent started a new career as the weather forecaster for WQRC on Cape Cod, said his oldest son, Doug. He would compile reports from his home in Sanbornton, N.H.

“It was his hobby, so even after he stopped earning a living at it, he would still be involved,” Doug Kent said. “Anytime there was a storm brewing, that would get the juices flowing.”

Albert said he received letters throughout his career proclaiming, “Don Kent, he could have outforecasted you!”

“He was the first real meteorologist that had that kind of presence on television,” Albert said.

The presence hasn’t faded, even nearly 27 years after Kent signed off at WBZ.

“We’ve had some guys come and go on TV who have been popular, but Don Kent was a legend,” Galvin said.

In this 1996 photo, Don Kent, left, watches then-Gov. William Weld unveil a Don Kent Park sign on Quincy Shore Drive in Quincy. The park is the former site of a carpet store that Kent and his brother owned.

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