Remembering Sonny Eliot

November 16th, 2012 by Don Tanner

It is not every day one gets to witness greatness, in any field or industry. It is rarer still to have the great fortune to work alongside a master of his or her chosen profession.  As you hear and read the many remembrances of those who knew and broadcast with Sonny Eliot, who has passed away at the age of 91, you will sense this common theme and sentiment.

Best known as a wise-cracking weatherman over the course of his amazing 60-years with WWJ (TV and radio), Eliot began his career acting in Detroit-produced national radio productions including “The Lone Ranger” and “The Green Hornet” as well as a performer and voice man for a range of local WWJ-TV programs. After the war, he would discover weather and the rest, as they say, his history.

Both Matt and I were honored to have known and worked with him during our respective stints in radio in the 90s – Matt as a sports reporter with WWJ and I as the station’s drivetime traffic reporter.  It was amazing to watch Sonny write up his radio weather reports, all hand-written, mind you, complete with jokes and clever alliteration. Sonny was equal parts brilliant, creative, funny and crude (off the air). He was a true trailblazer – unique, fearless, one of a kind.

As Matt put it well in today’s Detroit News story, Sonny “oozed personality.” Personality – so key to standing out in broadcasting and something too often lacking in today’s world of overly PC-obsessed broadcast management. It made Sonny unforgettable, including the last time we saw him at the most recent Detroit Radio Reunion.

So many of our best stories of Sonny can’t be told here but will be remembered and told over and over again ‘off the air.’ They don’t just make us smile. They make us laugh until we cry. CBS Detroit has also published a wonderful array of thoughts from other former colleagues that knew Sony well. Take a moment and take a look here as we all remember a true Hall of Famer.

One Response to “Remembering Sonny Eliot”

  1. Alan Stamm Says:

    Sonny’s greatness and flamboyance can’t be disputed.

    Yet more than a few of what WWJ’s headline calls “warm memories” make him seem like a good-natured, well-meaning older relative whose sense of humor makes nieces and sisters-in-law hesitate to be nearby at parties.

    Sonny being Sonny may have been more than a bit unintentionally boorish to some co-workers at times, judging from tales they tell while acknowledging affection for him:

    * “He always used to poke fun at me about my weight, constantly.”

    * “He would come over and pinch me . . . and say things that some people might not think are very appropriate.”

    * “He made the workplace here feel a bit like a 1960s harassment video — but in a fun way.”

    A roundup of open and private recollections at the news site includes a link to this post.”

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