Weather is worldwide, and now so is Joey Only’s weather show from Wells.
Known for his music career, and a forest-fire fighter, from the Cariboo Mountains, Only is a colourful personality who has just added Canada’s favourite topic to his career path. Because he makes it funny, everybody loves when Only talks weather.
He calls what he does “comedeorology” and it started as a podcast with noted media weatherfolk Frankie MacDonald and Brandon Houck. Together, they delivered real weather in a wacky way. That was when Only blended the words “comedy” and “meteorology” into what they were doing on-air. CFUR radio in Prince George took them on as a regular program, followed by stations in Winnipeg, Vancouver, now CFBX Kamloops. They are also available via their YouTube posts, and there is new optimism that they will be adding Shaw-TV to their broadcast collection.
Before moving to Wells, Only was a radio producer in Vancouver “and it was the one thing I always missed about coming back to the country,” he said.
“When I got sober and realized I was a weekend dad for the next decade and more, my professional music life ended and that left a huge hole in my heart. My Interior Weather & Wilderness Watchers group by that time had grown to 10,000 people so I decided I’d start making YouTube videos about the weather to fill in that hole in my heart. There was no goal, it just gave me a creative outlet and sense of purpose I no longer had.”
Much like his fiercely independent music career, there are no overarching producers telling him what to say.
“I want to make something no one has ever seen and not as some sort of rule but as an expression of who I am. I am interested in things I haven’t seen before, so I’m not here to emulate anyone else. The truth is I’m not trying to do something different; you get me and I don’t have to plan much to be me. Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m serious…there’s no plan as to what version of me arrives on screen, it’s natural.”
One of the traits of the show, is going out into the environment. They aren’t stormchasers to sell a vicarious thrill, they’re storytellers who want to show you the elements, not just talk about it.
“You get a look into life in the Cariboo Mountains,” said Only. “People in the rest of Canada have no idea what it’s like here. When they see the videos of the snow in Wells, the mountain caribou, wolves or the forest fires my crews have gone to, they think that this is a really wild place, and in many ways it is. I do more than forecasting in my videos, I try to give people a look at life in a place they’ve never seen. I don’t talk national weather much except on the radio show. Our panel is always made up of people from across our country and the USA too. We’ve had famous weather personalities, San Diego Padres commentator Mark Grant, professional comedians, CFL coaches. You just never know who will come on and report on their local weather, that’s the gold of the show.”
It might be something that can turn into a career.
“I think I’ve found my place in life once again. We are three episodes away now from No. 100,” he said. “I don’t say this out loud much, but I have been struck by lightning and not just once. That’s a whole other story, but you can imagine how a child might get weather obsessed after their first close call like that. As an only child in the country, by the time I was 19 I could read a thunderstorm like a book. I have chased or witnessed tornadoes in five different provinces, climbed well over 100 mountains, lots of days on forest fires, but I also have a mind that thinks in four dimensions easily. This has helped me with time, space, geography and rhythm. I experience the world differently than most people and I no longer consider it a weakness. My ability to visualize is something I feel is my responsibility to share. I have no idea how many people I’ve saved from accidents by talking weather. We will never know what would have happened if I were quiet.”
Joey Only – Cariboo Weather Dude is the YouTube channel.