By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Times change, and celebrity roasts just aren't what they used to be.
Events that started out with mild zingers are now brutal slamfests filled with vile, tacky insults that sting deeply and harshly. Why anyone would want to subject themselves to one is a mystery.
That's why we wondered if Gary Bandy was nuts.
Bandy, the chief meteorologist for KSNF-TV, will be placed on the firing line Saturday for a fundraising celebrity roast. During the evening, current and former co-workers will tell stories (and "telling stories" may be putting things too nicely) about Bandy and his long career in the Four States Area.
The event will benefit Heartland Crime Stoppers Inc.
It takes a unique kind of person to agree to this talkative torture, even when it's to benefit a non-profit organization. And as we found out, a weatherman is probably well-suited to handle the abuse. Bandy sat down with the Globe features editor Joe Hadsall to answer the most important question first, then followed up with a few more.
Globe: Are you nuts?
Gary Bandy: Yes, I think I am. The reason they asked me, however, is good. I am aware enough of the good things that Heartland Crime Stoppers does. So when they told me about this, I figured the public humiliation is worth it.
Globe: If it were a bunch of people, yeah. But this group, with Mike Pound, Jim Jackson; these are people who would roast Mother Teresa.
Bandy: That's true. I think I want to use that line! I should start by saying they have kept me pretty much in the dark. I know Jim Jackson will emcee, and Mike Pound and Gary Stubblefield will speak. But as far as confirmations of other folks, I have no idea. They have told me where to go, what to wear and to prepare for what may be brutal. I'm cautiously optimistic.
Globe: Is this the first time you've been roasted?
Bandy: In public, yes. I've had a number of people roast me about the weather, though.
Globe: Roasts today are pretty brutal, especially the ones on Comedy Central. Are you prepared for something like that?
Bandy: I just watched one of those recently, until I couldn't stand it anymore. It kept going until I had to switch to something happy. I'm old enough to remember when Dean Martin did the celebrity roasts on TV. A bunch of people would get up and tell a bunch of zingers. But Comedy Central, those are no-holds barred. I'm hoping for some holds to be barred.
Besides, I'm gonna have some personal one-on-ones, so I have a little leverage. I know things about Jim Jackson and all kinds of stuff about Mike Pound. Also, I'm not above making stuff up.
Globe: Have you worked with Heartland Crime Stoppers much before?
Bandy: I've heard about them. In my job, I'm working on weather, but I always hear what's going on in the newsroom. Heartland does a very good job assisting law enforcement by making sure the public stays aware of their surroundings and potential problems. They have a really good plan. That's how I became aware of them initially, and as I've learned more, how can this be a bad thing?
Globe: How did you find your way into covering the weather every day?
Bandy: While in high school, I went through what I wanted to do in life, and what I liked to do was play music. I was a total music freak, so I thought if I could sit around, play music and someone would pay me, that would be great. So I got into it while still in high school and loved it.
When I left Parsons for Joplin in 1981, I started working with Mike, who was also in Parsons. He and I knew each other, and we had similar senses of humor. The sales department recommended that we start a show, so we became "Amos and Bandy."
After a while, I left radio and started with TV production, making commercials. I got an opportunity to go on a morning show at KODE with Vicki Kennedy.
All throughout my career, I've been involved with weather. I was always doing weather forecasts on radio, and being there for tornado warnings. As a TV co-host, one usually takes care of news and the other does weather. When the job at KODE opened up, Kennedy was already known for news, and I had enough background in weather and knew my way around. Once I started that, and living where I do, I developed a real interest, so I chose to go back to school and get my degree in meteorology.
Globe: I imagine a career predicting weather has prepared you for the worst this roast has to offer.
Bandy: Some guy tore into us one time. He called and tore into us for the amount of snow we predicted. This was no Lee George event, where he said there would be a "dusting" of snow, then we got like three feet the next day. But the guy who called, I got the impression that he didn't want to go to class. He yelled, and said, "how hard can it be to predict snow," when in reality the hardest thing to predict is winter precipitation.
I came to the conclusion a few years ago that if you are on TV, people think you have had feelings removed. So I'm ready. But this should be fun.
About Heartland Crime Stoppers: A nonprofit organization, Heartland Crime Stoppers works to reduce crime by collecting tips through secure phone lines and Internet sites. The group offers cash rewards to people who provide information that leads to a felony arrest.
Want to go?
The Celebrity Roast of Gary Bandy will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Butcher's Block Event Center, located at 499 W. Fountain Road. A social hour will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased at Kraft Insurance, 2701 Bird Ave., and both UPS store locations, 2401 E. 32nd and at Highways 171 and 43. Details: 417-439-2995.