Sue Serio
Life can be fun, even on perfectly boring weather days
By Jayne Jacova Feld

Serio makes a Pinterest-inspired craft

No one loves commuting to work on seriously bad weather days, and Sue Serio is no exception. But everything changes once Fox 29s longest-serving weather person shakes off the snow, sleet, wind and rain she encounters during her pre-dawn drive to the Good Day Philadelphia” studio. 

When we get a big whopper of a storm and everyones going crazy, thats my super bowl,” says Serio in characteristically upbeat fashion. I hate driving through it, but once Im there, its game time! I have to go to work early to tell you that you can stay home. 

Whether its a super-bowl of a storm or another blissfully sunny (read boring) spring day, by 3:15 am daily, the Emmy-award winning meteorologist is on her game, figuring out how best to explain the weather so the rest of us can plan out our days. This entails studying weather maps and assembling charts and other graphic materials. By 4 am, when most viewers are still asleep or just shaking out the sleep cobwebs, Serio is in the Weather Authority” zone.   

And as the morning wears on, shes delivering up-to-the-minute forecasts every 15 minutes, illustrating them with pictures and video sent via Twitter from weather fans across the tri-state area.   

Its so great to have that help from our viewers,” notes Serio, who has been with Fox 29 since 1997, the year after Good Day Philadelphia” debuted. With such a big viewing area, from the mountains to the shore, it always makes for a challenge. Social media has helped so much in that regard. 

Sue Serio and former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in the Good Day Philadelphia studio

Speaking of social media, Serio has built a devoted following outside of the realm of meteorology. Her studio-filmed segments known as Pinterest-Inspired Ideas” feature her crafting DIY attempts, both the unqualified successes and famous flops.  

Im working hard to top my last Mothers Day project,” she says. I had done a thing where I put icing on Styrofoam in flower pots. It was supposed to look like cupcakes with roses on top, and it looked beautiful on Pinterest. But under the TV lights, all the icing went blah.”  

I dont actually try to fail,” she adds, laughing. But I do want people to know its not always as easy as it looks on perfect Pinterest. 

Beyond the realm of crafting, Serios Instagram is plush with slapstick videos that can brighten up the darkest of sunless days. She and her Good Day Philadelphia” co-host, traffic reporter Bob Kelly, have created an online-only sideshow that has nothing to do with traffic and weather. Bob and Sue Productions (#bobandsueproductions) are light-hearted skits that typically start with Sues catch phrase: Bob Kelly, Bob Kelly, guess what?” before launching into the topic du jour, ranging from international waffle day to their lottery-winning wish lists.  

We started our little videos just to amuse ourselves,” she says. And if we were going to do it, we figured wed put it on Instagram. We do it almost every day unless were just not feeling it or he has a big traffic thing and Ive got major weather. 

The popularity of their online antics has been a pleasant surprise, she says.  

Its funny, when I arrived at the studio, this was obviously not a thing,” recalls Serio, who was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2014. I remember when Fox first put up its website. Thats how long Ive been here. They wanted us all to blog. That was the thing. And then slowly everyone started to get onto Facebook and Twitter, and I guess that was all right by me. 

Like so much of the job, she says, the silly stuff works best when it comes naturally.  

I just made a rule for myself that I would never put anything on social media that I wouldnt put on TV,” she says, noting that her daughter Nia, now 22, pretty much grew up on TV. There really werent any secrets. The only thing we never did was put where she went to school. So I guess I was very comfortable on social media. 

For the Baltimore native, being herself evolved into her schtick. 

It was during her college years at Towson University in the 1980s when Serio discovered her voice. Although she first became involved in the colleges radio station in a behind-the-scenes role, she eventually decided to try out broadcasting. As luck would have it, on the very first day she hit the radio waves, she was asked to audition for a job at WMAR FM, a professional Baltimore station.  

As the first woman working at the station, she recalls her eagerness to learn everything she could at the soft-rock station.  

I was like a sponge,” she says of the job that took her through college and a little beyond. I wanted to learn everything, and they sort of treated me like a little sister. Nobody looked down at me or mansplained. 

About a year out of Towson, Serio left Baltimore for an on-air radio station job in Wilmington. Although it was a smaller market, it was a step up in the sense that being on air would give her more of a presence.  

That was difficult for me to do at first,” she says. I think I felt like I had to be more like an announcer to have a radio personality. 

Fortunately, she had a boss who was onto that. He said to me: When youre on the air, why cant you be more like you are in the office when youre joking around with your colleagues?’ A light went on. Over time, I think I became more and more comfortable and able to relax and just be who I am when the red light came on. 

While growing into that role, she learned of a job opening for a TV weather person. Although Serio had neither TV nor weather experience, she decided nonetheless to apply at Wilmingtons WHYY Channel 12, a PBS affiliate. 

I went into the interview thinking I was never going to get this,” she says. When I made mistakes, I laughed it off. 

Again, being herself paid off. She got the job. They liked my personality – and they couldnt afford to be too picky,” she says, explaining that it was a part-time job for the 5:30 am time slot. To say the least, she learned about weather very quickly.  

Soon after, Serio found an in” to the Philadelphia radio market. She landed a part-time announcer job on WMGK FMs evening show. Serio kept up both jobs in radio and TV.  After reporting the weather in Delaware, shed drive to Philly for her 9 pm to 1 am WMGK shift. This went on for five years , during which time she took distance-learning classes in meteorology through Mississippi State University.  

I was obviously single at the time,” she laughs.  

But not for too long. She met future husband Bill Vargas at WHYY, where he was a sports reporter. Romance blossomed at the station. Around 1994, the broadcasting couple moved to Buffalo, NY, when Serio was hired as the weather anchor for the stations new morning show. Vargas landed a job as well, as the stations nighttime sports reporter.  

Career-wise, it was the perfect stepping stone. We went number one in the market in the first year,” she says. It was pretty cool.”  

But there was a downside. Bill worked nights. I worked mornings,” she recalls. We basically never saw each other.”  

Three years later, with baby Nia in tow, the family left Buffalo for Philadelphia. This time around, they moved for Vargass job. He was hired as a Fox 29 sports reporter. (He left the station in 2009.) Serio, who was home with  

3-month-old Nia, started working for Fox 29 as a freelance producer. She snagged her current job within a few months. 

Looking back over the past 22 years, she says she is sometimes astonished she has been with Good Day Philadelphia” for so long, and yet it still feels so fresh.  

 “I never dreamed in 1997 when I went on the air that I would still be here,” she says. The hours are not good. But once Im here, its a great job. Even when the weather is boring, our show is not. You never know whats coming.

May 2019
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