Herb Clarke, longtime local TV personality, dies at 84

Posted: January 09, 2012

HERB CLARKE, one of Philadelphia's most recognizable TV personalities, who for 39 years kept viewers apprised of weather conditions in the region, died yesterday. He had been living at the Beaumont Retirement Community in Bryn Mawr since 2004.

His wife, Barbara, said he died of complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 84.

"Herb Clarke was a broadcasting giant in Philadelphia," said Brad Nau, president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. "His warm, calm and folksy charm was evident on and off the air. His comforting way will surely be missed."

Herb, who retired from Channel 10 in 1998, would reassure viewers with his soothing voice that everything would be all right even as a hurricane or blizzard roared through the region.

And in the years since he started at Channel 10 in 1958, he reported on numerous weather calamaties. But weather was not his only subject. He also served as news anchor and as host of various series and special programs.

Even after his retirement, Herb stayed busy, serving as spokesman for Peco Energy and an auto complex. Until 2005, he did the daily "Garden Report" heard on KYW Newsradio.

He was president of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia in 1998 and 1999, and a member of the organization's board for a quarter-century.

Herb started at WCAU-TV, Channel 10, on Nov. 24, 1958, as a weatherman.

It is almost unheard of for a broadcaster to appear in the same market on the same major TV station for nearly four decades. The Broadcast Pioneers said the record is "unequaled worldwide."

Herb's broadcasting career actually began in 1948 in his hometown of Eden, N.C. He also worked at WRVA radio in Richmond and as news director of its TV station, WRVA-TV, before arriving in Philadelphia.

He served in the Navy during both World War II and the Korean War.

Herb was also active in numerous civic and church organizations over the years. He was an elder of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, and a trustee of the Presbyterian Medical Center and the Presbyterian Children's Village. He also was active in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and chairman of the Flower Show.

In 1990, the Broadcast Pioneers named him "Person of the Year" and he was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, John and Robert; a daughter, Ann, and two grandsons.

Services: A memorial service was being arranged.

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