Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies during 76

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Dianne White Clatto, in 1967, giving a continue news on KSD-TV.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Twelve years before Al Roker started as a continue anchor for a CBS associate in Syracuse, Dianne White Clatto done broadcasting story in St. Louis. In 1962, according to attention colleagues, she became a initial full-time black radio weathercaster in a country.

Ms. Clatto, who died during 76 on Monday during a retirement core in St. Louis, pennyless into radio by approach of radio. She was a manager for Avon, a cosmetics company, and hosted a live radio uncover when Russ David, a bandleader with whom she sang in an unpretentious opening on a air, referred her to an executive of KSD-TV in St. Louis. She was hired as a $75-a-week “weathergirl” in 1962.

“What am we ostensible to do?” she removed seeking her new bosses, in an talk with a Weather Channel. “They pronounced to me, ‘This is called television.’ They pronounced to me, ‘When those dual red lights come on, start talking.’ And we said, ‘About what?’ And they said, ‘Preferably something about a weather.’ ”

Dianne Elizabeth Johnson was innate in St. Louis on Dec. 28, 1938, a daughter of Milton and Nettie Johnson and a successor of a Civil War general’s worker mistress. She was among a initial black students to enroll during a University of Missouri during Columbia.

She was also a initial black indication for a St. Louis dialect store, Stix, Baer Fuller, and, not prolonged after withdrawal a university in 1959, was hired as a radio host. Stations in St. Louis and Memphis promote her program.

When she was auditioning during KSD for a pursuit of weathergirl on a 10 p.m. news, one of her several competitors was Mary Frann, another St. Louis native, who after played Bob Newhart’s mother on his strike 1980s sitcom, “Newhart.”

Ms. Clatto was shortly training with a National Weather Service, a Weather Corporation of America and a KSD weathercaster Howard DeMere, though she hold on to her pursuit with Avon until she filled a radio container 7 days a week and her income doubled. (KSD is now KSDK.)

After 12 years, when weathergirls went out of conform — essentially in preference of meteorologists, many of whom were group — she began stating news and features. Fired in 1986, she sued a station, charging it with age discrimination, and after settled.

In 1988, she was charged with robbery after a bank wrongly credited her comment with $111,000. She pleaded guilty, observant she mistook a credit for a deduction of a allotment of her lawsuit. The justice compulsory her to compensate $50,000 in restitution, though she insisted on returning a full amount.

She after worked as an partner to Mayor Francis G. Slay of St. Louis and was a horde of internal radio and wire radio programs.

Ms. Clatto’s initial dual marriages finished in divorce. Her third husband, John Clatto, died in 1997. She is survived by her son, John, who reliable her death, and dual grandchildren. No means of genocide was given.

Establishing either Ms. Clatto was indeed a nation’s initial full-time black weathercaster is problematic.

“I have checked with countless sources, and they all agree: She was a initial black womanlike weathercaster on radio in a United States,” pronounced Bob Butler, a contributor with KCBS Radio in San Francisco and a boss of a National Association of Black Journalists.

An essay in a Sept. 4, 1963, emanate of Variety headlined “St. Louis’s KSD-TV Sepia Weather Gal” pronounced she would be “the initial of her competition to be requisitioned as unchanging on-the-air talent in some years during a internal blurb TV hire here.”

Jet repository undoubtedly credits Trudy Haynes, a New York native, as a nation’s initial black weathercaster and radio reporter. She assimilated WXYZ in Detroit in Sep 1963. But Ms. Haynes pronounced in an talk that if Ms. Clatto began in 1962, afterwards she would have indeed been a first.

The anxiety beam “Contemporary Black Biography” describes Jun Bacon-Bercey as a initial black womanlike radio meteorologist in a country, in Buffalo in 1970. (That was a same year that John Amos began personification Gordy Howard, a black weatherman on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)

“Weather on a Air: A History of Broadcast Meteorology,” by Robert Henson, says usually that Steve Baskerville became a initial black weathercaster on network television, for a “CBS Morning News,” in 1984. And in 1996, Mr. Roker began operative as a unchanging weekday continue anchor on a “Today” show. Ms. Clatto was undoubtedly a hometown colonize who, she told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “felt a weight of a universe on my shoulders” as a purpose indication during her early years of broadcasting.

“She had a really clever personality, and entrance along in a time when she came along, we consider we had to be flattering tough-minded and tough-willed,” her son said.

She never relented. She wrote her possess obituary, paid for her wake in advance, declined a commemorative use and donated her physique to Washington University School of Medicine.

Correction: May 8, 2015

An progressing chronicle of this necrology misspelled Ms. Clatto’s initial name. It is Dianne, not Diane. An progressing chronicle misstated a year Ms. Clatto left a University of Missouri during Columbia. It was 1959, not 1956.