CLEVELAND — Twenty years ago, a kid from Summit County returned home. No, we’re not talking about LeBron James.
In 2003, Betsy Kling — a native of Copley — joined our team at 3News as a meteorologist. Since then, she has not only become 3News’ chief meteorologist, but also the co-host of our daily 4 p.m. show “What’s New” alongside Jay Crawford.
“Two decades. That’s a long time,” Betsy said in reflecting on her time at WKYC. “I’ve grown up here. I’ve had a lot of life changes in 20 years, but I’ve also just loved every minute of it.”
After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Betsy began her career working at stations in Fort Wayne and Jacksonville. But Cleveland was never far from her mind. “The plan was to try and get back home. My family was here. This is where I grew up, and I love this area,” she recalled. After working in Jacksonville for almost three years, an opening at WKYC would make the plan into reality.
It wasn’t easy at first for Betsy.
“There was so much anxiety. Starting this new job with people who I admired so much. I kind of had stars in my eyes when I walked in the door. Jimmy Donovan is here, Ramona Robinson and Tim White, Mark Nolan,” she added.
But Betsy became very comfortable in her new surroundings. By 2007, she was moved to weeknights. A year later, she became Cleveland’s first female chief meteorologist. “It's a saying, 'I'm the chief.' And, you know, it was very exciting. And then the work began, and I was in charge of a department now. It falls to me. The responsibility is mine to set the tone and to make sure we're covered properly,” Betsy said of her promotion.
And part of that responsibility involves helping to mentor other meteorologists along the way, making sure she builds the best team possible.
“Hollie (Strano)... I can't even tell people the strength that they see every morning when she is on the air. No matter what is going on. she has a smile on her face, and she is there to tell people what they can expect for the day. And she does a hell of a job at it,” Betsy said. "And you know, I was kind of blown away by Matt Wintz when he first started… he's one of the sweetest people on the planet and just such a team player, and then we have Payton (Domschke) and Jason (Mikell) right now on this team, and they are absolutely superstars.”
In addition to forecasting the weather for WKYC, Betsy has had the opportunity to take part in many events in and around Northeast Ohio. “I've helped with a lot of major events that have been in downtown with all-star games, triathlons, airshows,” she recalled. “I've been down to Cape Canaveral several times following along with the Artemis Mission and building that up. That's a huge, huge point of pride for me.”
Betsy says she’s had the honor of working with some of the best anchor teams in the business during her years in Cleveland, and in 2020, Betsy took on a new role at WKYC Studios when she was named the co-anchor of “What’s New.” It meant developing chemistry with a new co-host, fellow BGSU grad Jay Crawford.
It didn’t take long for them to connect.
“The camaraderie that I just felt immediately with him just grows every single day. He's like my brother and I love to punch his buttons and I know what buttons to punch, but I also know when he's having a bad day and he just needs a little pick me up. I just love sitting next to him and chatting with him and getting to see a friendship grow. All of the folks at home get to see that friendship grow right along with us,” she says of Jay.
In 20 years at WKYC, Betsy has also won several Emmy awards, four All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism awards, and an award from the Ohio Associated Press for Best Regularly Scheduled Weather.
“I'm really grateful that people let me in, and people turn to me as not only their meteorologist and a news anchor, but they turn to me as their friend and their family member. There's nothing better than that.”