This was the first time I met Sam Champion. It was the fall of 2008, when I got to visit the GMA studio for the first time. I remember it well because the cast of High School Musical was there, and Juju Chang, who is also in the above picture, was being SO nice trying to make sure I got pictures with them. But what she didn’t understand (and many people still don’t) is that Sam WAS the real celebrity, to me. I watched him every morning. I’d seen him tackle weather disasters of all kinds, up to his knees in snow, getting blown sideways on beaches in hurricanes. So when Juju came over when I was sort-of-okay-totally-fangirling all over him and said, “Quick, Sarah! You can get a pic with Ashley Tisdale!” and Sam said, “Go! Go!” I didn’t want to. I told him, “Sam Champion, you ARE my Ashley Tisdale.” Which was not exactly true, because then, and now, he was even more than that to me and everyone else who loves GMA the way I do. And now, he’s leaving.
It’s hard to even write that. LEAVING? WHAT? That was basically my reaction when I saw the news on Twitter yesterday. (Clearly, a lot of people were worried about me, as I got MANY tweets wondering how I was taking this bombshell.) I didn’t believe it until I saw it confirmed by the man himself. Yes, he IS leaving for a new, great gig at the Weather Channel. It’s a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, he has to take it. And I’m happy for him. But I’m also feeling really sorry for myself, because it’s all about me when it comes to my morning TV habit. It’s like breaking the band up! First Diane left, the Chris Cuomo: now Robin in the last one standing of the First Four that was on when I began watching. SOB! SNIFFLE! And repeat.
Who will be there to remind us he was once a teen model? Or refer to his tween years as the time he spent in Huffy jeans, chasing the ice cream truck? What about all those Miami weather shots, because his heart (and husband) was always there? Not to mention all the tweets of “adult beverages” he enjoyed while traveling there and back to work in NYC. And don’t even get me STARTED on what it will be like to have Josh Elliott without Sam. It’s like peanut butter without jelly! Milk without cereal! Anything that needs anything without that thing! In other words, wrong. And so sad.
This NOT to say I don’t like Sam’s replacement, Ginger Zee. I know from watching her on the weekends she is a 90210 fan, like me, and she basically whupped ALL her co-workers butts in the pumping carving contest this year without even breaking a sweat. But I will still miss, MISS my Sam. Probably enough to start watching The Weather Channel, which I don’t as of right now, if only to glimpse him during hurricane season saying “pulsating areas of concern” with a completely straight face.
Thank you, Sam, for the forecasts and the belly laughs. For the vacation beards and airport tweets and always being able to lighten the mood after a dark piece. Thanks for being honest about who you are, and who you love. (That was huge, and we appreciated it more than you’ll ever know.) I’m wishing you happy days in the ATL with The Weather Channel and hopefully a place where you can get Cuban coffee between weekends. Take care of yourself. We will miss you!