Jay Cardosi, chief meteorologist at WLKY-32, has known for the longest time that he was destined to be a weatherman. In fact, he knew it as young as six years old.
Cardosi explained he was quarterback of his little league football team. One hot, sunny Sunday afternoon, he was down under center, preparing to call out the cadence, or snap count, when all of a sudden he saw an unbelievable cloud in the sky; it was a thunderstorm cloud forming.
“Long story short, I said to myself, ‘whoa’,” Cardosi said. “The center thought I said ‘hike.’ I didn’t, I wasn’t ready for it, the ball came up and hit me in the face mask. But the linebacker across the way flattened me. I’m lying on my back, he’s on top of me and I’m thinking to myself, I want to be a
He’s come a long way from the little league grid iron, majoring in meteorology at Iowa State. Then working jobs at WOI in Des Moines, Iowa and KETV in Omaha, Neb., before settling with wife Laura in Louisville in 1996. Cardosi is proud to be the longest tenured weather person in the Louisville market. In fact, that longevity here in our community is what Cardosi said, sets him apart from other forecasters.
“I think that says something when it comes to forecasting the weather,” Cardosi said, “because you learn all those little idiosyncrasies about the community and about the ‘micro casting’ that takes place. How one little area always seems to get severe weather and others don’t.”
Cardosi tries to emphasize two or three main points of interest in his presentation of the weather and to educate and inform his viewers. But he readily admits that 90 to 95 percent of the time, his job is not brain surgery—particularly on a 75 degree, sunshiney day. “However, on that 5 percent of the time, when it is important, like March 2nd [a day of serious tornado activity], we’re all business here, and want to try to keep your family safe,” Cardosi said, “That’s number one—that your family is safe.”
Cardosi loves forecasting the weather here in Louisville because of its location in the Ohio Valley, with its “very changeable” nature. “We can get as you know, tornadoes, one day … but then two days later, we had two inches of snow. So it just goes to show you how changeable and challenging weather forecasting is in the Ohio Valley.”
Cardosi said that a lot of people wanted to blame global warning for our just past mild winter. He said that is not true, that it was just a weather pattern we were in for three or four months. Halfway around the world, it was colder and snowier than ever.
Cardosi said the down side to being a meteorologist is when you “blow” a forecast. He said most people do not expect you to be 100 percent correct, 100 percent of the time. Cardosi said that people realize when a forecast is botched, people understand that stuff happens. What Cardosi does is try to learn from it.
“I go back and look at the weather models and go back and look at the data,” Cardosi said. “Why did I miss it? So if I have a similar situation in the future, I don’t do it again.” Cardosi said that all the weather people in Louisville, receive the same information, the same weather data to formulate their forecast. That’s when experience takes over to determine the best forecast possible.
Though originally from Chicago, Cardosi and wife, Laura, consider themselves Louisvillians. Cardosi likens Louisville to being a “small, big town” where you can get anywhere you need to go in 20 minutes, but it has everything you need. Cardosi said you don’t have to go to a Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati or Nashville for big ticket items—“you’ve got all of those, right here.” He also said the people of Louisville are “tremendous.” Cardosi enjoys the restaurants, arts and entertainment of our fair city.
Cardosi said the only thing he would change about Louisville would be the Kennedy Bridge and its notorious potholes, which he would like to see fixed.
Does Cardosi enjoy his high-profile status in the community? He tries to remember that his weather forecasting is first and foremost a job. "When someone does recognize me in public, I make it a point, always make it a point, to shake their hand and say, ‘thanks for watching,'” he said.
Cardosi's job is rewarding, but can be stressful at times. “During severe weather is one of them and also the Derby Festival is another one of them,” Cardosi said. “There are a lot of outdoor events and you have to get the forecast right.”
He used to deal with the stress by playing golf but now admits he rarely has the time to play. So instead, he puts on his tool belt for his other great love and method of decompression – carpentry. “I do a lot of work around the house,” Cardosi said. “At Iowa State, that’s how I put myself through school, carpentry on the side.”
Cardosi was born on September 7 on the South side of Chicago. He has two brothers and two sisters. He described his child hood as happy and he was athletic, focusing primarily on football and baseball. He attended Catholic schools: St. Patrick’s for elementary school and Bishop McNamera for high school. He played football from ages 6 to 18, and was on a winning state championship team at Bishop McNamera. That school enjoyed a reputation comparable to Trinity or St. Xavier, here locally, but on a slightly smaller scale.
He played baseball as a youth until college, where at Iowa State he switched to fast-pitch softball. He reported that he played third base and batted a very respectable .350.
Cardosi met his wife Laura while at Bishop McNamera. They both went on to Iowa State, and were married a short time after they graduated. They have been married 22 years and have two daughters ages 17 and 15, and a son, 12.
Cardosi said that they have a special needs daughter who suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome. “We’re heavenly involved with what we call the Prader-Willie Syndrome Foundation,” Cardosi said. “That’s where our time and effort and even our monetary schedule goes toward that research.”
Cardosi, a Catholic says he makes an effort to go to church every Sunday or at least he tries to. “I try to instill that in my children as well,” Cardosi said. He tries to say grace before meals, a vestige of his faith, which was emphasized in his upbringing.
On the whole, Cardosi is comfortable with his position in Louisville and at WLKY-32. One thing he would like to clarify, is his position on interrupting television programming to deliver severe weather information. Cardosi has received e-mails and voicemails and phone calls complaining of his delivery of severe weather information during regular TV programs.
“What they have to realize is if there were a tornado bearing down on their street, they would want to know where that storm was,” said Cardosi. “If there was a storm in their kids’ community, they would want to know what is going on. So I have to give the same respect to everybody in the viewing area, not just the Louisville area.
“What people have to remember is ‘I have a family too’, and I’d rather be home with my children playing catch… than being here interrupting your favorite programs,” Cardosi said. “But it’s my job, and it’s something we do well and will continue to do. It is my duty.”
Protecting lives and property in the Louisville area and beyond, is a long way away from a Chicago football field some 40-something years ago… and a little boy, lying on his back, looking up at a strange cloud and thinking, ‘whoa, I want to be a weatherman!’
Photo: Ryan Armbrust