During the weekend, Greg Fields, the longtime meteorologist for WFAA/Channel 8's "News 8 Daybreak," accomplished something not directly related to the weather: He received his master's degree in Biblical & Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.
He posted the news on Facebook, including on his WFAA Facebook page, where, as of early Wednesday afternoon, his post has received more than 4,300 "likes" and other reactions and has been shared nearly 300 times.
Fields is a little surprised at the reaction.
"I'm still the same person," says Fields, who celebrated his 20th year at WFAA in April and has no plans to leave. "People just saw me in the cap and gown and, all of a sudden -- it's as though I'm a different person. I'm still Greg. I'm still the meteorologist in the morning. That's not changing."
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In ever-changing modern media, sometimes all a TV or radio personality has to do is take a couple of days off before viewers start wondering if they've left their station. Fields says he's heard from viewers wondering if he's staying, and he is -- the degree is just another part of a journey he began when he was a child.
"I've been a Christian since I was 7 years old," Fields says. "So it's always been a part of who I am. So just that desire for knowledge and to be better equipped to live the life that God wants me to live and to help other people along the way, that's really my motivation."
Fields still has strong memories of his conversion experience at age 7.
"It was the Holy Spirit that was moving me to go up in front of the church during Vacation Bible School as a 7-year-old," he says. "I professed my belief in Jesus Christ and I wanted to be baptized. That's what we have to do: We have to believe it first, and then confess it with our mouths, and I was able to do that at 7 years old. It was a Holy Spirit thing moving me to do that, and I remember the feeling that I got from it."
Fields' faith and his love of weather and nature overlap.
"I like the ocean and the West Coast," he says. "Just the vastness of the ocean, and how it meets the land and how it comes together, that's kind of my quiet happy place. When you have the rugged rocks of the beach ... I just love the scenery out there. I appreciate the power and the beauty that all comes with that."
Fields grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and says he became interested in the weather to overcome a fear of it. The April 1974 "Super Outbreak" of tornadoes -- 148 tornadoes striking the Midwest, Lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeast, including most of Kentucky, according to the U.S. Tornadoes website -- happened while Fields was in elementary school.
"I just remember how afraid I was," he says, "and I didn't want to be that afraid of storms. That's what spurred my interest in weather when I was a kid."
Despite Fields' long tenure at WFAA (aside from KXAS/Channel 5's David Finfrock, he appears to be the longest-running TV meteorologist in Dallas-Fort Worth), we have never done a "Meet the Meteorologist" with him. But since we had him on the phone ...
Before the green screen
"I was a mailman before I was a television meteorologist," Fields says. "My first job out of college, I was a letter carrier for the U.S, Postal Service. I only did it for a year, but that was enough." (And yes, the future TV weather guy did it in rain and snow and heat and gloom of night ...)
First green-screen experience
"My first job in TV, I was a cameraman," Fields says. "I started playing around with the chroma key -- staying late, getting the cameras out. It was weird the first few times. It takes some getting used to.
On handling severe weather
"You just need to know what's going on, so I try to find out exactly what's going on -- when we have storms, where they're going, and just letting people know what's happening. So I try to be as specific as I can, letting people what they need to do to be safe. ... It's kind of instinctive. I don't have a plan, I just want to be as organized and have as much knowledge of the storms as I can and inform people the best as I can, and do that without scaring them, but at the same time, let folks know what's happening, what's going on, this is where you need to go to stay safe."
Favorite weather song
" 'Stormy Weathe'r is my favorite weather song is because it’s LENA HORNE! She could have made the ABC’s song sound amazing!
Favorite weather movie
" 'Groundhog Day'. it’s a story of redemption. The bad guy becomes the good guy and gets the girl in the end. And I also enjoy romantic comedies."
The 'secret life" of a meteorologist
"I'm a professional napper. That's what I tell people. Working the hours that we do, I'm always trying to get a nap in. I do that very well."
Catch Fields on "News 8 Daybreak," 4:30-7 a.m. weekdays on WFAA/Channel 8.