Chris Shaffer’s journey from Stillwater to WCCO

Annie Seiler, Online Editor

From waking up with his daughters to make them breakfast, to immediately having to drive to WCCO to make maps, forecast, and be aired on live TV, Chief Meterologist Chris Shaffer continues to experience a life full of lessons and successes since he was young.

Shaffer has had a passion for his career that he holds now ever since he was little and the journey to get there was not an easy path. Ever since he was in elementary school, he has had “a plan, passion, perseverance, personal pride, the opportunity to preach,” that has helped him to get to where he is today.

Where the passion began

Shaffer grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota with a life plan already in place in his young elementary school days. Shaffer went to Stonebridge Elementary and then to Stillwater Area High School where he learned his first passion for weather and meteorology. When he was young, he had many incidents that shaped his love for meteorology.

“I have had a passion for weather since I can remember,” he said. “Early on my grandma would tell me about her brother that would have been my great uncle and in 1952, he was stuck and killed by lightening.”

To Shaffer, the fascination over why weather would happen the way it did never left his mind. When he was young, he saw a tornado first hand and got stuck in a blizzard, where his mind continued to spin about the subject. The combination of these experiences led to his career that he has now.

The journey to “success” begins

When Shaffer’s parents got divorced when he was in 6th grade, he began to get worried about how he would pay for college. He worked long hours at businesses in Stillwater including Cub and PD Pappies. A visit to the college fair in his senior year is what changed it all for him. At the time, University of Utah was the 6th best school for meteorology and seemed like a great fit for him.

I love to give back to the community that gave me everything I have today.”

— Chris Shaffer

Shaffer explained that not only was it further than he has ever traveled, but it also fit his financial needs and career dreams. “They had an awesome meteorology department and it was super affordable,”Shaffer said.

Shaffer went to the University of Utah for four years, and there he received duel degrees in both meteorology and broadcast journalism. For Shaffer, this could not be a better set up for the life he had always dreamed of. While in college, he got an internship at a radio station and little did he know, this would be the shaping of his journey in the right direction.

“I did not get paid but when I finished that internship, they offered me a job. I had the coolest college job ever, while all my friends were working at other places like McDonalds” Shaffer said.

Shaffer traveled back to Minnesota after going to college in Utah because that is what he always wanted to do.  He stuck to his plan and when he came home his immediate plan was that he wanted to go into TV, but just as life does sometimes, it threw him a curveball.

Shaffer had braces that he paid for in college and at his interviews, he wore a suit and tie that made him look as if he was another professional at work. Shaffer giggled when he explained that he got denied at many of the common TV stations and they gave him a, Dude, you look 12 and you have no experience, try again in 10 years, response.

For some people, getting the dream job right after college is quite simple, but for him, it took eight years before he settled for his dream job as a meteorologist for WCCO.

“I just couldn’t crack the egg,” Shaffer said.

The opportunity for him to be on TV was opened when a women on WCCO was pregnant and they needed a fill in for the months she was away. Now at this time, Shaffer was balancing his full time job at the radio station, working mornings on TV and then on top of that, creating a family of his own.

“Life was crazy. Everything I had wanted was all of a sudden there, but it just became too much” Shaffer said.

With three daughters at home and a wife, Shaffer discovered that juggling all the things he loved at once was too much for his life, which caused him to let go of his TV job.

One day, an interviewee that had denied him his first TV jobs called him saying that he got the job as the full time chief meteorologist for WCCO. Moments before Shaffer gave up, his dream job was staring at him right in the face and he could not believe it.

The advice and future Shaffer holds

Shaffer continues to help out in his hometown of Stillwater while going on his eighth year at WCCO as the Chief Meterologist. Day in and day out, he spends his time at the studio studying weather and getting ready for the daily news at the shows at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

While most people see him on the news as an idol with wanting a signed autograph and a “selfie,” with him, Shaffer explained that most of his accomplishments and  things that really matter to him are within his family and the community.

“I love to give back to the community that gave me everything I have today,” said Shaffer when explaining the volunteering and visits that he makes to the Stillwater community almost every week.

According to CBS, Shaffer has been recognized with an Emmy Award and the AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist award, but his favorite was the award he got from Stillwater Area High School, The distinguished Alumni Award.

This is his favorite award because, “It doesn’t say you have the most viewers, heres and award. I recognizes who I am and what I do for the community. It’s like saying, ‘Thank you for being who you are,'”  Shaffer said.

Success can be determined by a variety of ways but for Shaffer, having a gorgeous wife, three beautiful daughters, and his dream job is enough for him. The hardest part of his job is balancing the time he gets with his daughters, with the crazy work schedule that he encounters, but he has gotten better at managing it.

Shaffer gave advice to students at Stillwater and said, “I promise you as you get older, family will be the most important thing in your life. I hope [your life] is not what you do, but who you become.”