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Sunny skies ahead for weatherman Mike Sobel

Edmonton broadcaster retires after 25 years beside the weather map

The early morning wake-up alarm is no longer in the forecast for Mike Sobel.

After 25 years as a weather specialist and co-host at Global News, the amiable on-air personality is now retired.

"This has been a labour of love. I really enjoyed going to work every day," said Sobel, who stepped away from the camera at the end of December.

And while he'll miss the viewers and the team at Global Edmonton, there is a work-day routine that will be easy to forget.

"I will not miss getting up at 2:30," said Sobel, who started the commute from his west end home every weekday at 3 a.m.

A long career as a TV weatherman was not on Sobel's radar growing up in Toronto. He went to York University where he majored in economics, but his primary interest soon became the campus radio station.

"I spent way more time in the station than the library," said Sobel, who attained the degree but followed his passion and parlayed that on-air experience to secure a disc jockey position at a radio station in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1979.

Three years later he was working as a DJ at Edmonton's 92.5 Rockin’ Country CJAX when he was approached by the station’s program director Marty Forbes about doing some work at ITV (rebranded as Global in 2000).

"ITV was putting local artists on the air and it was being simulcast on the radio. They needed a couple of DJs to help out," said Sobel, who jumped at the chance. The half-hour show was called Rockin' Country and was followed by a series of other ITV hosting gigs for Sobel.

Over the next decade, he kept up full-time in radio and maintained a regular presence on ITV, working on everything from telethons to New Year's Eve countdowns.

In 1995, Sobel started as an on-air weather presenter when an opening came up for the part-time weekend newscasts.

"I was shadowing Bill Matheson. He would grab a magic marker and put things on a board. That is how I started," said Sobel, who juggled the two jobs and “did a lot of reading. There wasn't a lot of time to pursue further education."

Sobel’s outgoing personality clearly made an impression on management and by 1997, he became the full-time morning weather specialist for ITV on a show airing from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Embracing the new role, Sobel adapted as the show changed and grew into a 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. telecast.

“Technology improved access to the maps, graphics and the satellite," he said of the weather specialist's job. "Now you are in complete control of everything."

On the four-hour newscast, Sobel was on air every 10 minutes for a weather report of one to two-and-a-half minutes. And as a show co-host, Sobel also interviewed guests for everything from charitable fundraisers to the Edmonton Humane Society bringing adoptable animals into the studio.

While Sobel did deliver the weather outside the Global studio on extremely cold days, he limited fresh air broadcasts to community events. He has been a huge fan of viewer engagement too, via 'Colour the Weather' artwork from kids, and sharing viewer's photos. 

"I loved doing the weather in the schools, having the read-in week. I'll really miss that," said Sobel.

Another highlight viewers may remember is Sobel's 2014 encounter with a dog named Ripple, which drew worldwide attention (and over 4 million views). See the clip at: Ripple the dog doesn't care about the weather forecast - YouTube.

Sobel aims to stay involved with charities he's supported over the years, especially the MS Bike Tour, ( a fundraising ride he has hosted for the past 20 years.

Now that he's in his 60s, Sobel--married with two adult sons, a daughter-in-law and a grandchild--says he’ll be spending more time with family. But the veteran broadcaster's familiar lilt may yet be heard down the road.

“I’d like to stay in the business. Maybe I could do some voiceover,” he said.