By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Jun 05, 2001 at 1:38 AM

This installment of Milwaukee Talks introduces's newest columnist, Vince Condella. He's a Harley-riding "Seinfeld" junkie with a hankering for head bangin' tunes and a deep appreciation for good guitar, quality coffee and ice hockey. Lest we fail to mention he's also a big fan of jet streams, warm fronts and the ever-popular cumulus cloud.

He's also FOX 6's Chief Meteorologist, one of the 15 best local TV Weathercasters in America, according to "Partly Sunny," a 1995 book by Alan Fields.

As an 8-year old growing up in Lombard, Ill., in the western suburbs of Chicago, Vince Condella would try to copy the style of his hero, longtime Windy City weathercaster Harry Volkman. He performed his own weather broadcasts in his parent's basement where his dad helped him paste a United States map on a huge sheet of metal. Young Vince put magnets on the back of home-made weather symbols to stick them on the map, just like Harry did every night on TV.

Some of his passion for weather comes from his ability to confront his childhood fear of thunderstorms. "I was scared to death of thunderstorms, they were a major phobia of mine," he says.

His best friend's dad, a pilot for the now defunct Eastern Airlines, also sparked his early interest in weather. Vince would go out to O'Hare International Airport on the weekends and watch the airline meteorologists consult with the pilots on the best routes to fly, based on upper air winds and weather. That was cool stuff for a kid in grade school. Add the fact that he witnessed the constant change of Midwest weather first-hand and you can see why the weather bug bit young Vince early in life.

Despite his childhood weather interest, he never planned on getting into broadcast meteorology. Vince set his sights on teaching and research in college. He went to Purdue University, receiving his bachelors degree in atmospheric sciences in 1977, then went on to the UW-Madison, completing his master's degree in 1979.

A year into his doctorate program at Madison, Vince saw a job opening on the department bulletin board for a weekend meteorologist at a local television station.

He had never been on TV before, but figured a little spending money wouldn't be a bad thing.

OMC:Tell us about more about the first TV gig?

VC: I carefully prepared my resume and went for the interview. The news director promptly dumped my resume in the circular file, stuck me in front of a camera and rolled the video recorder. Despite my heart leaping up into my throat in a fit of nervousness, I passed the audition and the weekend job was mine. I immediately fell in love with the broadcast aspect of meteorology and decided the Ph.D. could wait. That was 1980.

OMC: When did you get to FOX 6?

VC: I was very, very lucky that I ended up coming to FOX 6 shortly after my Madison job in February of 1982. It was one of those things, the path just opened up for me here.

OMC: Talk about your style and the nature of TV news a bit.

VC: I think it is totally a personal thing. There has to be a connection between the viewer and the person they are watching whether it is news, weather or sports. It is totally individual.

A lot of people will refer to the other meteorologists at the other stations as my competition. But not really, because there is only one type of person. There is only one me, one Paul Joseph, one John Malan. I can't get on the air and make someone enjoy and like watching me. It doesn't happen. The way to do it, I think, is to just be yourself (whatever that is) and be natural and conversational, just let the chips fall as they may. There will be some people who like you, others won't.

If people don't like my presentation style, there are other options. What I have to offer may be unique to one viewer, but not to another.

Bart Adrian has been my partner in crime here (we know each other from way back in graduate school) and we've been working together for a long time; we always say that we are talking one on one with the person sitting at home. We are just coming into the living room and say here's what's going on today in the weather.

OMC: Let's back up a bit. How does a youngster crack into the field of meteorology?

VC: A young person needs to realize that there are many opportunities. There are so many areas that a person can get into, broadcast meteorology makes up only 8-10 percent of the field. The other 90 percent work as forecasters, researchers and other areas.

Here's the weird part, there is no licensing for meteorologists. There are no rules for someone being called a meteorologist. If a news director or general manager likes the way a person looks they can hire them and put them on the air, call them a meteorologist, without that person having any education whatsoever.

But my advice is to at least get a bachelor degree in meteorology, and get a good education.

OMC: Obviously, you have the background and it has helped. You were even named one of the "Top 15 Best Local TV Weathercasters."

VC: It was very flattering to make that list. The author of the book called other broadcast meteorologists around the country and conducted a poll. I was honored that my name came up quite a bit. It was cool.

OMC: Let's talk about Milwaukee a bit. What are you favorite and least favorite things (any thing) about our town?

VC: It is a really enjoyable place to live. I think one of the great things about Milwaukee is that the people here are very friendly and it's just a really comfortable place to live because of that. There's no rush hour traffic, and it's easy to get around.

The biggest struggle for me is that I have a tougher and tougher time making it through the winter months. It's so ironic because I grew up in the Midwest (and I'm a weather guy). Every year I kinda get a little less patient with the winter doldrums.

OMC: Does TV help you pass the time in the winter? What does Vince Condella watch other than the FOX 6 News, of course!

VC: I'm a big "Seinfeld" junkie. Love the reruns. I break out the brown bag lunch, watch Seinfeld and answer mail. It's still my favorite show.

OMC: Are you a big music fan?

VC: I am. I enjoy all sorts of music. I play guitar, and I'm just starting to take drum lessons. I enjoy a lot of different kinds. My pre-set buttons in the car run the gamut. I've got country, Mix 99, Kiss FM, 'KHL, 102.1, Lazer. I'm constantly flicking, depends on the mood. Every once in a while I even enjoy an opera CD.

OMC: What's the last concert you saw?

VC: I think it was John Prine a few summers ago at the Pabst. Love him. Also saw John Hiatt around that time. But, there's a great secret place -- well it's not all that secret anymore -- to hear singer-songwriter concerts, it's the Singer Songwriter Series at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. We've gone to quite a few of those concerts, it's usually just one-on-one, just the artist with the guitar. That's the first time and place I ever show Peter Mulvey. Also saw Willy Porter a few times, just totally floored me with his acoustic guitar stuff.

OMC: If you could take three CDs on a trip with you, what would they be?

VC: The ideal would be compilation like albums. Let's see. Gotta have some heavy stuff, either a Metallica or AC/DC. A second would be a Peter Mulvey album. And third, I'd go country Vince Gill. Not so much for his sappy love songs (which are great) but for his guitar. He is an unbelievably talented guitarist.

OMC: Good variety there, Vince. Let's see, so you have your CDs picked now here's another fun question. If you could have a beer with one person living today, who would it be?

VC: Wow. Obviously, I could put together a pretty good list. But if I had to pick one, I think it would be Jimmy Carter. The reason is because, here's a guy that has done so much after he left the Presidency. Especially his work with Habitat for Humanity. My wife has helped build homes with Habitat and has really enjoyed it. I really admire Jimmy Carter, he seems like quite the wise man and someone that I'd like to sit down with and get some of his secrets of life and philosophical thoughts.

Wayne Gretzy would be a close second, 'cause I'm a big hockey fan.

OMC: What's your favorite Milwaukee restaurant?

VC: Crawdaddy's. I totally love Cajun stuff.

OMC: What do you like to do when you are not working?

VC: It's nice having my mornings off. When the weather is good I do enjoy the motorcycle. My wife and I both ride. But also the bicycle for good exercise. I really enjoy playing hockey too. I play a couple of times per week in the winter. I love hockey. Try to hit one Chicago Blackhawks game per season and half a dozen Admirals games too.

OMC: Favorite beer?

VC: I'm a big fan of Sprecher. I love the product that Randy rolls out. A nice bottle of Black Bavarian.

OMC: Do you have a favorite coffeehouse in town?

VC: I do. There are a lot of nice little coffeehouses in town. Two favorites, though. One is Stone Creek Coffee. A second is Fiddleheads in Thiensville. A great spot right on the river.

OMC: From weather man to mayor now. What are three things that you think the city could use?

VC: An NHL team would be great, a pennant for the Brewers, year-round sunshine and 70 degrees. That would make my job a lot easier!

OMC: Thanks for your time, and welcome aboard!

For the record, Vince is proud to be affiliated with annual campaigns like Condella's Coats for Kids, the Make-A-Wish Run/Walk to Fiesta and the Ozaukee Humane Society's Walk for Animals. He also has a lot of fun every year writing and producing "Condella's Weather Class." is proud to have Vince as its exclusive weather columnist.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.