Did you know Jeff Gianola sometimes does a little dance behind my camera while I’m giving you my weather forecast–to try and make me laugh? Probably not until now.
Or, how about the fact he’s constantly helping local charities, schools and kids during his free time?
He and his wife run a foundation that helps foster kids. And he’s a key player (along with Elmo, apparently!) in getting those kids books to read.
In my ongoing Friday interview series, I’m guessing you’ll learn more about Jeff. I know I did–and I’ve worked with him for years!
Jeff, I know you started your TV career when you were like two years old (ha-ha). Was it in Portland?
I actually started my news career at KGTV in San Diego in 1978…I worked behind the scenes starting on the assignment desk, later I was grip…the guy who carried equipment for the photographers in the field…I took that opportunity to learn from every photographer and reporter I worked with. I later was a news writer and producer. In 1980, I took a job as a reporter at KEYT in Santa Barbara, Reagan was president, and spent a lot of time at his ranch there…I was part of the local Reagan press corps. In 1983 I accepted a job at KATU here in Portland…I started out doing weather on the weekends and reporting during the week…a few months later I did weather full time on the 6:30 and 11pm newscasts…in 1985…they promoted me to full-time anchor. In 1998 I came to KOIN.
What’s the biggest weather story you’ve ever covered?
Definitely the 1996 floods. We were on the air 24-7 for almost two weeks straight… I remember sleeping at the station a few nights… I also remember watching (live) part of a deck from a restaurant inLake Oswego being torn off…telling viewers to keep an eye out for it floating by Portland in an hour…and then live pictures of the whole thing floating past Portland about 45 minutes later…when volunteers started helping build the seawall downtown…the mood really changed from serious to sober.
What’s something funny that’s happened behind the scenes?
There are so many funny stories…but one that stands out is the Pizza phone. Like all new ‘sets’ KATU had a hotline phone on the newsdesk…this is so producers could call you during a commercial. Often the phone would ring in the middle of the newscast…we were one number off from the nearby Dominos and I would slyly lift the receiver up and hang it up …only to have it ring again …sometimes if we were in a commercial…I could actually tell the person they had the wrong number….why the station never changed the number I don’t know!
Current day follow up: recently Kelley Day and I attended the Portland Car Show…a woman walked up to me and said many years ago she was ordering a pizza and I answered the phone…and told her she had reached KATU and had the wrong number…Kelley was shocked to find out the story I had told was true.
I get asked this question all the time: do you and Kelley Day really get along?
Kelley and I are good friends…we probably talk to each other on the phone everyday…just to check in before we come to work. She is a wonderful and talented woman, who is exceptional at what she does. We are also very in tune with each other…we can complete each others thoughts on the air almost like we were an old married couple. And you know how I feel about you. It’s funny how we can always lift each other up behind the scenes when someone is having a bad day…I started out my career doing weather…and always have a kinship with you Bruce. My claim to fame in my weather days was starting Bob the Weather cat…
Bruce’s reply: I’ve always heard about Bob the Weather Cat. At our house we have “Jingles” the wonder cat. She’s not exactly ready for prime time!