Utah Air Guardsman is a local celebrity with complementary dual roles
By Airman 1st Class Lillian Chatwin, 151st ARW/PA
/ Published November 07, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY -- When asked about the upcoming weather forecast, Senior Master Sgt. Sterling Poulson states the obvious in his "TV voice," an easily recognizable voice to viewers who watch the nightly KUTV Channel 2News, "It's 70 degrees outside and pretty nice!"
"People come in here five or six times a day wanting to know what the weather's going to be like," explained Sergeant Poulson, the Public Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Utah Air National Guard State Headquarters.
When pried a little further though, he makes a few clicks on his keyboard, looks at a bunch of multi-colored dotted lines on a map of the U.S., and then presents a full weather report with the fervor of a "veteran" forecaster.
"Looks like snow Monday night and Tuesday morning with another storm rolling in here on Wednesday. It's going to get cold, cold, cold with temperatures in the forties. Friday will be partly cloudy and a little warmer, with a high of 48. Looks like snow on Saturday, and temperatures probably won't climb out of the 30's this weekend."
"Summer is pretty much over!" said Sergeant Poulson with a chuckle. "There's going to be a storm about every four days, and it just keeps getting colder and colder!"
"Can you delay that?" asked Lt. Col. Cecilia Nackowski, the Chief of Plans and Programs, whose desk sits directly across from Sergeant Poulson's.
"For how long?" asked Sergeant Poulson after only a short pause.
"Three weeks!" replied the colonel.
Sergeant Poulson gave a hearty laugh before responding with, "In three weeks you will have shoveled your driveway three more times!"
Sergeant Poulson's dual civilian-Guard career fields --as a meteorologist and PA specialist-- are complementary and have proved mutually beneficial to each other, he said.
"Everything I learned about weather, I learned in the military," said Sergeant Poulson. "When I first went to Offutt Air Force Base, I worked under Colonel Robert Miller. He's the one who wrote 'the book' on severe weather forecasting, and I got to learn a lot from him. I soaked it up like a sponge. It was like going to a seminar every day!"
Sergeant Poulson began his Air Force career right out of high school in 1969 as an Aerospace Ground Equipment operator. He served in that capacity during a deployment to Vietnam for 13 months in 1970-1971. In 1975, Sergeant Poulson decided to crosstrain into weather forecasting in pursuit of a childhood fascination with weather that he gained after observing eight inches of rainfall within 24 hours. After training, he served as Severe Storms Forecaster in support of the Air Force Global Weather Center.
After completing 10 years of Active-Duty service, Sergeant Poulson transitioned to Reserve status in 1980, assigned to the weather detachment at Hill Air Force Base. He attended college at the University of Utah, where choral arts first sparked his interest. In 1984, he became a weather producer for KSL TV. He started his long-running career as an anchorman, weather producer and meteorologist for 2News in 1989.
Sergeant Poulson has been a PA specialist with the Utah ANG since 2000. He writes his own scripts and acts as the Master of Ceremonies for most of the Utah Guard's major annual events like the Governor's Day parade, and the Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day concerts. He has hosted several Minuteman and Hometown Hero Award ceremonies. He was also the narrator for the history of the Utah Air National Guard's DVD production "60 Years of Distinction."
"They call me the voice of the Guard," said Sergeant Poulson with a slight smile.
Sergeant Poulson attributes his ease at public-speaking engagements to his 21 years of experience being on camera at KUTV. 2News is also very supportive of the military and his role in the Guard, said Sergeant Poulson.
"The cool thing about my employment at 2News is I can give the Guard a little visibility," said Sergeant Poulson. "I can do live shots at the VA concert in uniform, and make sure we talk about the concert on TV. I can do PA spots, and place public service announcements that let people know about the event."
Since his college days, Sergeant Poulson has had a strong interest in music and he founded Choral Arts Society of Utah in 1987. As the music director of this 100-voice choir, he collaborated several times with the Utah Guard's 23rd Army Band for events like the Armed Forces Day concert.
As a Citizen Airman, Sergeant Poulson has been recognized in both his military and media careers. In 2008, Sergeant Poulson won a silver Utah Broadcaster Award for the television news story he covered in Morocco in support of the African Lion medical mission with the 151st Medical Group. Additionally, Sergeant Poulson was awarded the 2010 Senior NCO of the Year for the Utah ANG.
Sergeant Poulson is scheduled to retire from the Guard in September 2011. He resides in Centerville with his wife Danette. He has five children, and seven grandchildren.