Host of Upbeat & Academic Challenge / WEWS meteorologist
The tendency for television signals to skip across bodies of water deserves a moment of thanks for Don Webster’s 35-year career at WEWS-TV5. The station’s general manager was vacationing in Erie, Pa., in 1964 when his television picked up a Canadian broadcast featuring Webster. He soon recruited the young talent to host Upbeat, a local American Bandstand-like music program that showcased music groups of the 1960s.
Along the way, Webster interviewed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (“I think the Stones needed a good shower and a barber, even more than the Beatles,” he recalls with a laugh) and scores of other acts. He hosted Upbeat until 1971 and then switched to Academic Challenge, the television game show featuring students from throughout Northeast Ohio. “We always got a kick out of when some little school from nowhere, farm country Ohio would come in and beat one of the big private schools in Cleveland,” he recalls.
Webster, who was also the station’s meteorologist from 1971 to 1981 and from ’89 to ’99, retired from WEWS 10 years ago. Now 70, he spends his days enjoying sun, sand and golf in Hilton Head, S.C., where he lives with his wife, Kandi. For the past eight years, he’s done commercials and worked part time at a Hilton Head liquor store with a motley crew of other retirees: a rocket scientist, a professor and a furniture designer. “I’ve got a lot of nice friends, a wonderful wife and a great dog,” Webster says. “What else can you ask for?”