Samuel James English III, host of Aviation Weather, a series produced and distributed by Maryland Public Television in the 1970s, died Nov. 3 of respiratory failure at his home in Pikesville, Md. He was 79.
Known as “Jim” on the air, English delivered twice-weekly weather reports for private airplane pilots, and flew in his own spare time. The program was produced live, in partnership with the National Weather Service.
English began his career at commercial radio and TV stations in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1956, first as a local disc jockey and then as a correspondent for NBC Radio. He moved to Baltimore in 1966 and worked as a weatherman for commercial station WBAL-TV before joining MPT and Aviation Weather in the early 1970s.
“Jim was a delight to work for,” said Gail Long, former associate producer for Aviation Weather. “I was very young, new to the business, and I thoroughly enjoyed his stories. He taught me and some of the younger staff members a great deal.”
The series ended in the late 1970s, to be replaced with MPT’s A.M. Weather, which remained in production until 1995. But English left on the station to teach communications at Towson University before retiring in 1995. His son Mike English made his own way to MPT, and today is an executive producer for the network.
“He opened the door to public television to me,” Mike English said. “He really thought very highly of public television. Obviously it was very different from commercial television, committed to telling a different kind of story. He really liked that.”