KATV Channel 7’s Todd Yakoubian on Forecasting, Family and 'Making' the Weather
It was an idyllic day for an outdoor photo shoot—Todd Yakoubian’s cheery family, grateful for a rare warm day during the otherwise sub-freezing month of February, played in the sunshine at The Terry House in downtown Little Rock. Four-year-old Blake made a “house” under the branches of a magnolia tree, while two-year-old Preston played peek-a-boo with mom, Andria.
When it came time for a family photo, Todd and Andria settled onto a blanket in the grass and attempted to calm the kids with a storybook. “What if…what if it stopped raining?” Andria read aloud. “Well then Daddy wouldn’t have a job anymore!” she joked.
It’s true that the Yakoubians’ lives revolve around the whims of Mother Nature much more than your average Arkansas family. As the weekend meteorologist on Channel 7, Todd Yakoubian forecasts weather for television, writes for the Arkansas Weather Blog, and keeps local families informed through Facebook and Twitter.
And when the weather goes crazy, so does the family schedule: “When there’s bad weather, I’m the guy on the weekends,” Todd says. “My normal weekend is to work a split shift on Saturday. If there’s severe weather or snow, it’s not out of the question that I work around the clock from when I get in at 6 a.m. in the morning, all the way to 11 p.m. at night.”
“There are things that we miss out on—being able to ‘go’ on our weekends as a family and see the Old Mill or visit some of these Arkansas places,” says Andria. “He’s got his days with the boys. He’ll call me and they’re out gallivanting and going to Starbucks and getting cake pops. We just sometimes have to do things separately. I think a lot of families have to do that.”
The couple agrees that Todd’s work schedule has its advantages, too. While Andria works typical 9 a.m.-5 p.m. hours during the week, Todd has been able to stay home with their young sons. “Working weekends at Channel 7 has given me the opportunity that I think a lot of dads don’t have, and that’s getting to spend a lot of time with your kids,” he says. “I call it Daddy Daycare. At one point, I was taking care of the kids for three days a week. I’m in a unique position with my job to be able to spend so much time with my boys.”
Family is what brought Todd and Andria to Little Rock, when they relocated from Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2005. A Little Rock-native and Catholic High School graduate, Todd says he feels lucky to be have landed a job in his hometown—a difficult feat in the broadcast industry. After attending the University of Oklahoma for college and moving to locales like Missoula, Montana, he snagged a job in Chattanooga, where he and Andria met.
“After meeting Andria, I decided I wanted to get home close to family,” Todd says. “I don’t talk about it much, but when I was in college, my dad had a heart attack and a stroke all within two weeks. He lived for almost 10 years after that. During that time, I was in Oklahoma going to school, then Montana and Chattanooga. I didn’t spend much time with my dad in the last years of his life. That played into why I wanted to come home—that was time that I missed with my dad and I don’t want to miss time with my family, especially my mother.”
When the family is able to carve out time together, Blake and Preston play with their cousins, visit Pinnacle Mountain or enjoy the spring daffodil festival at Wye Mountain. “I’ve taken Blake fishing,” says Todd, who loves to fish the Little Red River. “There are so many things you can do here in Arkansas that are so close and make great memories.”
The city has likewise embraced the Yakoubians. Since Todd has a strong Facebook and Twitter following, the family is also in the public eye. He posts cute pictures of the kids on his social media accounts and even gave a play-by-play of Preston’s birth on Twitter. “I was comparing his birth to computer weather models, like ‘Baby Model shows he should be here within an hour,’” Todd says, laughing.
The experience can be fun, but also embarrassing, Andria says. “I’ve been at the grocery store with no makeup and my hair in a ponytail, alone with the boys and people have come up to me and asked, ‘Are those the Yakoubian kids?’”
Ultimately, Todd and Andria are glad that Little Rock is tuning in: “It’s pretty cool to be in the town I grew up in,” Todd says. “For your goals in life to come true and people to recognize you and give you a pat on the back—it’s very satisfying and gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Little Rock Family: Is there a lot of pressure to “get it right” when you’re forecasting severe weather?
Todd Yakoubian: I hate severe weather with a passion. There’s nothing good that comes out of it for anybody. I’ve seen the devastation that tornadoes cause, so I take it very seriously but I don’t see it as pressure. In the broadcast industry, you always want to be right. But when it comes to severe weather, it’s always about watching the radar, seeing the dangers on the radar and where the threats are, and getting the warning out however you can—social media, on the blog or on television. Television and reporting the weather has evolved into a 24-hour-a-day job, and you better be on it. People are looking for information. If there’s a storm in the middle of the night, you better be on social media or on the air warning people ahead of it. It’s not so much pressure, but it is a lot of long hours—but I’ve wanted to be a meteorologist since I was 6-years-old, so I enjoy it.
What is your favorite season?
My favorite thing to cover is snow, by far. Snow can be dangerous, but people choose to go out on the roads. I don’t tell them what to do and what not to do. Snow is beautiful and you can play in it…as long as you don’t have to drive in it.
Do your boys understand your job?
I’ve tried to explain the weather to Blake and he thinks I make the weather. I tell him, “No, I try to forecast the weather, Blake.” Sometimes I use it to my advantage. Just a few weeks ago, he was having a temper tantrum and I said, “If you don’t behave, I’m going to take the snow out of the forecast!”
||The Purple Cow|
|Family Attraction:||Playtime Pizza, The Wonder Place, Jump!Zone|
|Children’s Book:||“I read “Love You Forever” to the boys,” says Andria. “I remember it from when I was small. Blake knows the little song now, so he sings it for me.”|
|Arkansas Getaway:||“We haven’t been able to get away in Arkansas with the kids yet, but I do want to take them to a cabin in Eureka Springs when they’re a little older,” says Todd.|
|Date Night:||Bruno’s Little Italy. “Their Spaghetti Carbonara is the absolute best,” says Todd.|