VIDEO: Storm Team 4's John Malan announces retirement

Join WTMJ's John Mercure and Malan and send him well wishes through his Facebook Live appearance on Wisconsin's Afternoon News below.

The longest-serving broadcast meteorologist in the Milwaukee area is forecasting a 2017 retirement. John Malan, chief meteorologist at TODAY’S TMJ4 (NBC Milwaukee), announced that his last day on the air will be March 1, 2017. Malan first joined TMJ4 in 1994 and has been forecasting weather in the area since 1980.

“I am so grateful to our viewers for their loyalty and support over the years,” said Malan. “I’ve had a career doing what I love. Now it’s time to spend more time with my family and pass the baton to the talented team of meteorologists we have on Storm Team 4.”

“John Malan has been a powerful presence on TV and in our community for decades,” said Joe Poss, vice president and general manager of TODAY’S TMJ4. “His dedication to keeping our viewers safe and informed has been impressive to watch. He may be leaving the building, but his influence will stay with us for years to come.”

Malan’s interest in science and weather started at an early age but a career in broadcasting was not in the original plan. In 1968, after a short stint on a farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Malan received a draft notice. He served in Vietnam as part of the 11th Armored Cavalry, also known as the Blackhorse Regiment. A shrapnel injury while serving earned him a Purple Heart, which Malan downplays. “There are different degrees of Purple Heart and mine was a smaller one, compared to some of the other people who served with me.”

After returning home from military duty, Malan graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in geography and science followed by a master’s degree in meteorology from Northern Illinois University. From there, John became a part-time teacher.

"I taught earth science courses at Triton Junior College right outside Chicago," Malan explained. "A friend casually mentioned one day that a part-time weather producer job was open at WLS-TV. I thought, 'What the heck, I'll try.’” WLS gave him his on-air break and the rest is broadcasting history.

In addition to his years of weather coverage, Malan has been a live TV fixture at hundreds of local festivals and community events during his career. According to Malan, “getting out and doing the weather from Summerfest or The Waukesha JANboree, or any of our other great community events, has been the true highlight of my career. I’ve met so many people and had the chance to put a lot of fun characters on TV.”

A popular promotional campaign still follows John wherever he goes. “People still come up to me and say ‘my mom dresses me funny because of John Malan.’ I get a kick out of that.” Malan joked.

Malan is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences “Silver Circle,” which honors broadcasters whose careers span 25 years or more in the industry.

“John’s legacy is remarkable,” said Janet Hundley, news director for TODAY’S TMJ4. “While the technology of forecasting has evolved over the years, the science behind it has always been the most critical to John. He’s a terrific meteorologist and, more importantly, a wonderful person.”

Malan reflected on the most significant weather events he’s covered over the years:

  1. His first day on the air was April 7, 1980. On that first day a tornado hit the Yerkes Trailer Park in Beaver Dam and he was assigned to cover it.
  2. The Stoughton tornado event of Aug. 18, 2005 was a large F3 tornado in Dane County that caused debris of paper and checks to fall from the sky in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.
  3. The Oakfield tornado on July 18, 1996 in Fond du lac County was a large F5 with winds of about 265 miles per hour. It cut a swath about a half mile wide of total devastation through the Village of Oakfield.
  4. The Brew City floods in July of 2010. About 11 inches of rain hit the city and Shorewood, creating a raging river of water that ran down Oakland Avenue just blocks from the station.  
  5. The flash flood of Aug. 6, 1986, when 7 inches of rain hit the area near County Stadium turning the Kinnickinnic River into a dangerous flash flood and flooded County Stadium, filling it to just over the height of the dugouts. 6. The Groundhog Day blizzard of Feb. 2, 2011. The storm hit with heavy snow and winds gusting to over 60 miles per hour at times.

Malan said he is most proud of the next generation of meteorologists that he helped get started in the field. He loves to see his former interns forecasting the weather all over the country. Malan’s 36-year career in Milwaukee will be celebrated throughout the month of February.