Yesterday, today and the remainder of this week have a tradition of being the most optimistic time of the year. No matter how mired one may be in the murky pond of pessimism, the dawn of a new year, even one that finds us gripped by a pandemic, presents a path on which we can discover new and exciting adventures.
That is especially true for former NBC4 weatherman Fritz Coleman who, after 39 years of tracking storms and providing Angelenos with information on marine layers, onshore flows, ocean eddies, spotty drizzles, May gray, June gloom, heat waves and seven-day forecasts, retired this past year.
“I was nervous about retiring,” said the man who once joked that he was a weatherman in an area of the country that has no weather. “My father’s entire identity was his work and he just imploded when he retired, so I’ve been planning my retirement for over a year so that wouldn’t happen to me.”
Coleman’s decision to step away from the weather map of the nightly newscasts he presented with Colleen Williams, Chuck Henry and Fred Roggin brought an end to the longest-running news anchor team in the history of Los Angeles television. Known for his affable demeanor, Coleman said that while his decision to retire caught NBC4 management and his colleagues by surprise, he felt the time was right for him to go.
“In case you haven’t noticed because I have the body of an 18-year-old, I’m old, and trying to make it through the 11 o’clock news began to really hurt,” he said with a laugh. “I also have children and grandchildren I want to spend time with.”
Calling his career at NBC4 “a ridiculously great run,” he credited the chemistry he had with the anchors for the group’s decades-long success.
“You can’t manufacture chemistry, which we had,” said Coleman. “Then, beyond that, I was lucky to get to work with people I really loved and supported and got along with. We spent a lot of time in the trenches with one another covering many difficult stories. I’m just so grateful to have gotten to share the stage with them and was gobsmacked as to the amount of effort they put into seeing me off.”
Coleman, the recipient of a ceremonial key to the city of Burbank in honor of his work with many local nonprofit organizations, and the former honorary mayor of Toluca Lake, said the beauty of his retirement is that he can now take on a stimulating new venture and still support all the nonprofits he has loved being a part of without having a job to get in the way.
And just what is his new venture?
Coleman has teamed up with Louise Palanker to co-host a podcast called “Media Path.”
“It’s a new chapter of life for me – a chance to do things I’ve really wanted to do, like this new podcast that we have had planned for about a year now,” said Coleman. “It will give people who have known me for doing the weather the chance to get to know me in a different way.”
Calling the podcast a deep dive into topics of intrigue that will range from entertainment and literature to politics and history, Palanker said the show is like taking a scenic tour down a path where you’ll find discussions about controversies, current events that have captured the public imagination, anyone who is in the public consciousness, and just about any topic of captivation within the Zeitgeist.
A Renaissance woman who co-founded Premiere Radio Networks and has worked as a writer, director, producer, filmmaker, photographer, comedian, musician, songwriter and teacher, Palanker wrote and produced “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” a documentary about the rise and fall of the real-life family pop group that inspired television’s “The Partridge Family.”
“I have been podcasting for a long time,” said Weezy, as she prefers to be called. “When I left Premiere I did stand-up for a while, but I always wanted to do my own talk show, and by doing a podcast I can do that. I had first met Fritz when he was doing his one-man show ‘It’s Me! Dad!’ and we became good friends. We then started working together on a few projects and I produced his next play, ‘The Reception.’ He has been my dream co-host for ‘Media Path,’ and so we timed this for when he was free to do it.”
Stating that he and Palanker have a lot of similar interests, Coleman said it is the meshing of their interests that has blazed the path for their new podcast.
“We get political and snarky, which I couldn’t do at NBC,” Coleman explained. “And while it has been great to realize I am now free to say anything, I don’t because that is not what people would expect from me. But the thing I really love the most is having to study different topics, read books, see films — that provides me with great mental exercise.”
Saying that the show will be organic in the subject matter they present, Palanker said no topic will be off limits.
“I really love how our path always leads to the discovery of another cave and canyon of information,” said Palanker. “We love traveling down paths on which people can follow us to learn about things they may not even know they have any interest in.”
As Coleman and Palanker begin the journey down their new path, they both said they have adopted resolutions for 2021.
“Through this pandemic we have all found ‘work-arounds’ to express our creativity,” said Palanker. “That’s what humans do. When we’re faced with a blockage, we go around it. We’ve all learned a lot during this quarantine and although we’re apart, we have been apart together, and I feel that has built stronger bonds between people. I think it is now so important to reach out to people, especially those who mean a lot to us. I have mentored a lot of kids and sometimes I text or place a call to them just to see how they are doing. I have resolved to reach out to even more people this year.”
As for Coleman’s 2021 resolution, he said he hopes his new path helps him to better connect with his fellow man.
“My retirement and this period of isolation, along with the Black Lives Matter movement, has made me feel that in small, incremental ways, we need to better connect with our neighbors and people who have different thought patterns than ours,” said Coleman. “We’re in a tender place right now, especially in the wake of the election, but we have the opportunity to repair relationships, and I hope to have a level of patience with people I may not have had before. My resolution is to try and get into their shoes and gain a better understanding of their way of thinking. I think it’s the only thing we can do and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for me, my family and the planet.”
For more information and to join Coleman and Palanker on their path, visit mediapathpodcast.com.
David Laurell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.