(Images courtesy of JP Dice's social media and social media accounts of WBRC and WBRC staff members)
Truer words were never spoken, as I learned when I started my job here as the broadcast chief meteorologist for the Tennessee Valley Weather Channel under Ben Luna's management last spring. After 13 years on air at WBRC FOX 6 in Birmingham, Alabama, Chief Meteorologist JP Dice's last day at the station is today. His last newscast on air is 10:00pm tonight. Before coming to WBRC in the summer of 2008, JP had been the morning and midday meteorologist at WHNT in Huntsville since the late 90s. Today ends a 26 year broadcast weather career for JP as he gets ready to move on to his other passion, aviation. JP Dice is fortunate to have found two passions in his life and be able to make rewarding careers out of both of them.
JP Dice had a direct impact on the paths that both Ben and I would take as we would "grow up" through our weather careers. Indirectly, JP Dice is a big reason why we would get to be in the place we are in life so that we could form the Tennessee Valley Weather Channel.
I met JP in the fall of 2008, a few months after he came onboard as the then new chief meteorologist at WBRC. I had been friends with David Neal, the person in the position before JP's arrival. However, I was excited that JP was taking the job because I had followed him for years during his time in Huntsville at WHNT. I knew what he would be capable of as the new chief meteorologist, especially given WBRC's aggressive but level-headed approach to severe weather coverage. After watching JP alongside Dan Satterfield for years, I knew he was the right man for the job.
I offered to "pimp out" JP Dice's Gibson Ridge radar display (consumer level radar software with 3D volumetric rendering capabilities) so that it would look more TV-presentable and look more in-line with the Baron FasTrac and VIPIR on air radar systems the station was already using. That's how I got the chance to meet JP Dice, and from then on, we've been good friends all these years since. JP was a voice of reason and encouragement since the day we first met, and he has continued to be that way for me all these years later. JP Dice allowed me to work behind the scenes in a volunteer capacity during severe weather events starting in February 2011. Alongside JP Dice, Wes Wyatt, Jill Gilardi, Fred Hunter, and Mickey Ferguson, I got to drive the radar systems for on air tornado warning coverage and help relay damage and spotter reports we would hear back in the weather office to the on air staff. We had warm-up events during February and March of that year that had tornado warnings, but the defining event of our careers came on April 27, 2011. I was in my behind-the-scenes radar and storm reports capacity at the station that day alongside JP and Wes. JP, Wes, and that day overall helped shape how I do severe weather coverage on air, which has in turn guided me to do what I do here at the Tennessee Valley Weather Channel. From there and several times after through 2018, I would get other chances to work severe weather events behind the scenes alongside JP, Wes, Jill, Mickey, and Fred, including doing a bit of on air work alongside Mickey Ferguson on the mornings of January 23, 2012 and March 2, 2012.
JP Dice leaves behind and impactful and lasting legacy on broadcast meteorology and severe weather coverage in Alabama. Prior to coming to WBRC, during his time at WHNT in Huntsville, JP Dice helped lead the project to develop and deploy ARMOR Live Doppler Radar in Huntsville in a joint partnership with UAH and other entities. ARMOR was the first dual polarimetric Doppler Radar for use on air in broadcast meteorology in 2004, and it helped shape how Doppler Radar was looked at on air for severe weather coverage, and it helped drive Baron Weather in Huntsville to push forward with developing dual polarimetric Doppler Radars for on air broadcast use, which also led to them winning the bid to updating the NEXRAD network (NWS warning radars) to dual polarimetric technology.
JP Dice has spent countless hours, days, weeks, and years developing the weather operations at WBRC into what it is. From his countless hours of severe weather, winter weather, and tropical storm coverage... to community outreach at schools, civic groups, WeatherFest at the McWane Center in Birmingham, and other such events... to the Willy the Weather Kid program that he and Jill Gilardi partnered on to bring weather education and help deal with weather fears and phobias for school-aged children.
As JP Dice prepares to leave WBRC and head off on this new venture in life, he leaves WBRC viewers in safe and highly capable hands. Wes Wyatt has been named his successor as Chief Meteorologist at WBRC. I've known Wes for only a few years less than I have known JP. I've worked alongside Wes countless times during tornado warning situations. He is a highly intelligent and outstanding meteorologist with a deep understanding of the area's weather concerns and the local area's detailed geography and how to relate it in a way that viewers can understand. I know that Wes Wyatt, Jill Gilardi, Matt Daniel, Mickey Ferguson, and Fred Hunter will carry on the legacy that JP Dice built at WBRC, and that the people of central Alabama are in safe hands during dangerous weather.
JP, as you get ready to head off to your new career, we at the Tennessee Valley Weather Channel want to thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the people of north and central Alabama and southern middle Tennessee over the past 26 years. You have been nothing short of a hero to this community for years, and we sincerely thank you for your sacrifices, your dedication and concern, and your service to our friends and neighbors. I personally thank you for the impact you have had on my life these past 13 years since they met, and how you have helped lead me toward doing what I've always wanted to do with my life. I will be eternally grateful for your kind words and encouragement, your sincerity, and your downhome and humble nature with everyone you come into contact with. It is my hope that you and your amazing wife Aliece thoroughly enjoy the days that life has in store for you. Safe travels, good luck, Godspeed, and THANK YOU for all that you have done and continue to do!