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Veteran Chicago weatherman Jerry Taft announces retirement date

Jerry Taft | File Photo

He’s been a familiar face on Chicago television for 42 years, and after 34 years at ABC7-Chicago, veteran weatherman and WLS chief meteorologist Jerry Taft today announced he will retire January 19, 2018.

In an email to WLS-Channel 7 staff, Taft called his job “a joy” and his Channel 7 colleagues his “extended family.”

“While I still have my health, wit and vitality it’s time to hang out with my real family, assuming they still remember me,” the 74-year-old Taft quipped in the note.

“When I first arrived here we had elevator operators. The newsroom was full of smoke and the hum of IBM Selectric typewriters. No computers. The scripts went to the set in pneumatic tubes. 35mm film was being spliced together for air and weather was presented on maps drawn by the art department. We have come a long way and I’ve been here the whole time. Amazing,” Taft said.

Taft began his Chicago television career in 1977 at the NBC affiliate, WMAQ-Channel 5. He moved to WLS-Channel 7 in 1984.

He closed his email by thanking everyone for their support and wishing everyone a happy holiday.

Taft is the latest in a line of retirements announced by veteran Chicago weathermen this year. Earlier this month, WGN-TV’s Jim Ramsey announced he is leaving the station at the end of the  year after more than 30 years. WBBM-Channel 2 chief meteorologist Steve Baskerville’s last day as that station’s longtime weatherman is Friday.

Jerry Taft at the Channel 7 “Eyewitness Weather Center” desk in 1997. | Sun-Times Photo