Ben Pine, WHAS-11 meteorologist, just may be the hardest working broadcaster in the Louisville market. And this is by his own admission.
“I work a 10-hour day, which includes the web, phone, radio, Twitter, Facebook, special events or school talks that I do,” Pine said. “And that is on a ‘good’ weather day. I sometimes think the public thinks we have it easy, but we don’t.”
Pine’s day starts early – real early.
“I get up at 2:30 a.m.,” Pine said. “It’s breakfast while driving, [consisting of] eggs and sausage—no biscuit—and a big coffee. I’m at the station between 3 and 3:30 a.m.”
Pine immediately starts forecasting, which includes emails and faxes to all employees and radio stations. He also does the phone line update, which anyone can call, at 502-585-1212, for the Storm Team forecast.
By 4 a.m., Pine is putting on his makeup, and at 4:30 a.m., the Good Morning Kentuckiana show begins. It’s live until 7 a.m.
From 7 to 9 a.m., Pine does cut-ins for Good Morning America, brief updates of the local weather.
Then, from 9 to 10 a.m., Pine does the weather for Great Day Live, with Terry Meiners and Rachael Platt.
Finally, from 12 to 1 p.m., Pine does the weather for WHAS-11 News at Noon.
By 1:00 p.m., Pine has put in a 6.5 hours of live television. If it’s a 'bad' weather day —one with severe thunderstorms, tornado warnings or significant snowfall, for example—Pine may log quite a few extra hours at the station. But Pine isn’t complaining.
“I love my job,” Pine said. “I get to interact with the community every day, and my job is different every day. Furthermore, I want my job to mean something. I want people to be able to trust me and get lifesaving information from me.”
Pine was born on July 3, in Indianapolis, Ind. At about age 9, he moved to St. Louis, a hometown he grew to love.
“It’s a great city, a lot like Louisville, both river cities, just about twice the size.” Pine said.
Pine noted that St. Louis is a big sports town, and he still follows the professional St. Louis sports teams, especially the hockey team, the Blues.
Growing up as a boy, Pine dreamed of becoming an architect, as he was a gifted drawer.
“I loved to draw,” said Pine, “and I was fairly artistic, probably because I am left-handed.”
In fact, Pine drew so well that he won a contest with a St. Louis television station, KSDK. His picture, of a tornado, won him the chance to appear live with weatherman, John Fuller, on the noon news.
“When I learned that I had to appear live in front of my entire school, I cried the whole night before,” said Pine. Pine’s fear of public speaking would follow him for some time.
Pine decided to attend college at Ball State University, in Muncie, Ind.
It was not until Pine’s junior year that he made a crucial decision: he opted for the double major of broadcast journalism and meteorology. What had started as a vague calling in high school, had finally come to fruition his junior year. The double major required a fifth year of study, and Pine graduated in 2003.
Pine made another major decision in college his sophomore year: he started dating Sarah, his future wife. Today, the Pines have been married for eight years. They have two children, Hannah, 5, and son Brady, 3. Ironically, Ben and Sarah knew each other all of their lives, but did not start dating until Sarah’s freshman year at Ball State.
Pine loves being a father, and takes the role seriously.
“Everything’s special about being a dad,” Pine said. “There’s a chamber in your heart that opens up that you never knew was there. You hope they don’t make the same mistakes [that you made] and they become better than you.”
As for religion, Pine said that it was not emphasized growing up. He said his father became a born-again Christian in 1990, but “did not push it on anyone.”
“In 2009, I was baptized at Okolona Christian Church,” Pine said. He reports that he and his family are still members there, and it is “of number one importance, today.”
Pine’s recreational interests include golf, running, working out and especially playing with his two children.
When he worked for station WAGT, in Augusta, Ga., Pine said he caddied for three seasons and played the storied golf course, four times.
“It was golf heaven, on Earth,” Pine said. “You could not find a weed or dandelion. It was a perfect blend of rye over Bermuda. I made the most of Augusta, while I was there.”
Pine did more than just improve his golf game at the legendary golf course.
“One of the best things I learned from my years at Augusta was to avoid ‘negative yardage.’ Meaning when you’re caddying, you don’t want to forget a ball or a bag and have to backtrack. You always want to be going forward. There’s a parallel or symbolism to life in there—to keep going forward.”
As for running, Pine enjoys running the Triple Crown of Running in Louisville,” each year. He and Reed Yadon ran the 26.2-mile New York marathon this year. Pine said the two “finished together, on a very special Sunday…as we ran through all five boroughs of New York.”
Pine thinks that the public’s perception of his work may be wrong.
“Weather is not a 50 percent chance,” Pine said. “We have to be accurate or I will not be on TV anymore. You cannot rest in this market—it is so competitive.”
Another difficulty of his job is the role that he plays.
“During severe weather, you go to protect your family,” said Pine. “I have to run to work and into the storm. Just like a firefighter; they run to the fire, we run to the storm.”
Pine likes many things about Louisville.
“There is a lot of history, here,” said Pine. “The city is saturated with good golf courses. There’s the Kentucky Center for the Arts, which draws big names to come through here. There’s a hockey club, I’d love to get involved with. And, I am a big supporter of local sports teams.”
Finally, Pine would like Louisvillians to understand one thing. Unlike many broadcasters that come to Louisville on a path to larger markets, Pine does not see it that way.
“I do not see Louisville as a ‘stepping stone’,” said Pine.
“This is a place I would like to stay and put down roots. I’ll stay as long as you’ll have me, Kentuckiana.”