Local 10 News hurricane specialist marks 50 years in broadcasting

Meteorologist Bryan Norcross began his career as a teen in radio

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – In February 2018, Bryan Norcross, a man considered one of the most experience forecasters in South Florida, joined the Local 10 Weather Authority, but it’s not his first stint at WPLG-TV.

Norcross’s career in broadcasting began in 1968 at a small radio station in Melbourne, Fla., but he had no idea where it would lead.

"My first job in radio I did was for gas money to get to the station. After that I actually got paid $1.60 an hour for the next three jobs which was the minimum wage," Norcross said.

Through out his childhood and teen years, Norcross was a self-described ‘science nerd’ with a deep fascination for radio.

"I sat in my room every night tuning my radio, listening for top 40 stations," Norcross said.

His first gig on the air came at the age of 17 when a new FM station in Melbourne went on the air in 1968 under the pseudonym Barry O’Brian.

"My real name has always been hard for people to say. Besides, in 1968 it was rare for a disc jockey to use his real name," Norcross said.

The Barry O’Brian show premiered Saturday, June 8, 1968, and Norcross was hooked.

His radio career continued through college at Florida State University, but after graduation in 1972 he took a different path in broadcasting.

"I worked as an engineer, technical director, production manager, and directed newscasts at stations in Florida, Georgia and Colorado," Norcross said.

A career in weather forecasting was not actually on his radar until Mother Nature intervened in January of 1978.

"I had just been hired as news director for WLKY in Louisville, Kentucky but hadn't actually started working yet when a massive snowstorm hit," Norcross said. "I was the only one who could make it into the station that day. There were just two engineers and me.  I turned on the lights, set up the camera, sat down at the desk and away we went."

After returning to college to earn a degree in meteorology, Norcross’s TV career took off.

After a stint in Tallahassee, he became the first weekend weather caster at CNN when the news network went on the air in 1980.   

In 1983, Norcross moved to South Florida to forecast weekend weather for WPLG-TV.   A year later he was moved to weekdays where he started his neighborhood weather segment.

"It was truly unique.  We would broadcast live from a different location every day, sometimes from locations outside of South Florida," Norcross said. "I remember one time surprising the anchors. They were told I was going to be live from Hollywood.  They thought it was Hollywood, Florida but I had actually flown to Hollywood, California."

Norcross became the calm amid the storm when Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992.

"It’s the defining moment of my life and it set me in a different direction towards being a positive component of hurricane evens in the future," Norcross said.

Although returning to WPLG might seem to be a homecoming of sorts, Norcross says it’s also very new.

"The building is different, the people of course are different, the whole world is so different it’s like moving forward rather than going back," he said.  "But it’s great to be back on the air in South Florida." 

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