It’s going to be a gorgeous weekend, and Steve Udelson doesn’t like it.
WSOC’s (Channel 9) chief meteorologist kicked off his annual coat collection drive this week and, with temperatures headed into the 70s, he’s concerned that people won’t be mindful that there’s lots of winter still to come and many needy people to clothe against the elements.
Since launching “Steve’s Coats for Kids” nine winters ago, Udelson estimates the community has donated 70,000 coats for the cause. And not just old coats – he says about a third of them come in with store tags still on them.
“We get some really nice ones, like ski jackets,” says Udelson, who notes that stores tend to put coats on sale this time of year. “People realize it’s about trying to keep a kid warm, and they bring in good stuff.”
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Udelson’s drive began in 2004, somewhat humbly. That year he collected about 3,000 coats. He even sent his two children around the neighborhood to gather up gently used ones.
“My kids were pretty young and had everything they needed and more. It was good for them to think about those who didn’t. They got to see a different side of life.”
Donations picked up in subsequent years, hitting a high of 15,000 in 2008. Since the recession hit, the trend leveled off at about 9,000 annually.
Coats go to Charlotte’s Crisis Assistance Ministry, which distributes them to the needy through its Free Store at 500A Spratt St.
Udelson, who grew up in the Boston area without ever acquiring the accent, joined Channel 9 in September 1997, replacing Ray Boylan, who went into semi-retirement after 11 years at the station. Udelson came from a station in Tampa and was happy – professionally – to come to a city that had seasons and a forecast that varied from day to day.
This weekend, he’s wishing it was the middle of a cold snap.
“This weekend is going to be incredible,” he says. “Winter is a longer season than you think – it starts getting cold in October and doesn’t end until March or April.”
WBTV’s (Channel 3) Steve Crump has a big day on Jan. 21. He will receive the city of Charlotte’s prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Medallion Award at the MLK breakfast, then nip off to the airport to reach the presidential inauguration in Washington by noon.
UNC School of the Arts graduate Anna Wood of Mount Airy has a recurring role in “Deception,” debuting 10 p.m. Monday on NBC. A bummer for Charlotte foodies: Ric Edelman’s “Truth About Money” replaces “This Show Is Cookin’” with Charles Jenkin on WBT-AM (1110) at noon Sundays. WBT program director Jason Furst says the local cooking show may return at some point.
AAA spokesman Tom Crosby retires after 31 years with the association. Taking over as editor of Go Magazine will be AAA’s public relations director Angela Daley. Ramona Holloway of WLNK-FM (107.9) debuted this week as co-host of WCNC’s (Channel 36) “Charlotte Today” with Colleen Odegaard.
Anniversaries of note: This year marks 50 years in Charlotte broadcasting for Tom Gentry, general manager of WHVN (1240 AM, 104.3 FM). He started in 1963 as an overnight deejay on the old WIST-AM. And WSOC-FM’s (103.7) mid-morning voice Catherine Lane marks 27 years.
Providence High School grad Mark Freiburger, 29, now a Hollywood filmmaker, created one of the Dorito commercials, “Fashionista Daddy,” that will air during the Super Bowl. If his commercial, one of five for Dorito airing during the game, is selected as the most popular, he wins $1 million.