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Erik Burgess, Published March 26 2014

WDAY's Daryl Ritchison to leave TV for job at NDSU

FARGO – For 18 years, Daryl Ritchison has rolled out of bed at 2:30 a.m. to inform the public about the day’s weather on WDAY-TV.

He can finally afford to hit the snooze button a few times come Monday morning.

Ritchison, who is WDAY’s meteorologist for the 5 to 7 a.m. show “First News,” is leaving for an 8 to 5 job at the state climate office at North Dakota State University. His last day on television will be Friday, and he starts at NDSU on Monday.

“I’ve never actually had a ‘day job,’ so to speak, in my adult life,” he said. “So it was just an opportunity that I just thought I would take.”

WDAY News Director Jeff Nelson said the search for a replacement has already started, and the station will look nationwide as well as internally.

“It’s too bad. I wish he was staying, but I understand that working, getting up at 3 a.m. every morning and doing it for that long has got to be tough on a person,” Nelson said. “I wish him nothing but the best. He was always the consummate professional here.”

WDAY’s Aaron White and Rebecca Lebak will help fill in until a replacement is found, Nelson said.

Other than a more normal schedule, Ritchison said it’s always been his dream to work at the state climatologist’s office, where he says he’ll have more time to research, write and speak publicly about “weird weather facts.”

“With this job I can, in many ways, enjoy weather as a hobby, rather than a job,” he said. “If there’s a thunderstorm, I can just go out and enjoy the thunderstorm and not have to worry, ‘Is this bad? Do I need to go in? Do I need to cover it? Do people need to know?’ ”

As a student at Mankato (Minn.) State, Ritchison tried to get a job at Minnesota’s state climate office, but it didn’t pan out. That’s when he picked up a job in TV, and laid the foundation for a 25-year career as a TV meteorologist.

He said working in TV was also a boyhood dream.

“In some ways, I’m one of the lucky people that get to go from something that I’ve always wanted to do to another job that I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

Ritchison, who grew up in the small town of Elysian, Minn., holds a master of business administration degree and a master’s degree with emphasis in atmospheric science from Mankato State, now Minnesota State University, Mankato.

He lives in Fargo with his wife and two teenage children.

The decision to leave the TV business was difficult, but Ritchison said his vacancy at WDAY will “let someone else live their dream for a while.”

“I absolutely love my job at WDAY, so it was a hard thing to leave, but I felt the time was right,” he said.

WDAY is owned by Forum Communications, which also owns The Forum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518