For nearly four decades, Merril Teller has played an important role, not just in the newsroom, but also in the homes of the many Kansans who trust him with their lives. Generations of Kansans know Merril as the composed voice informing them when it’s time to head for shelter – a source they can trust day in and day out.
Merril’s career as a broadcaster started when he was a student, doing weather reports and forecasts for radio stations at Rutgers University and the University of Oklahoma. During his meteorology career, Merril has forecasted for private industries, radio stations, government bodies, and television.
After several years of broadcasting in Texas and Oklahoma, Merril moved to Kansas in 1981 and has served KWCH 12 in Wichita ever since. His work and dedication to the people of Kansas earned him an induction into the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008.
“I have enjoyed the distinct opportunity to partner with Mr Teller since May of 1995”, writes Chance Hayes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “During his time, Mr. Teller confronted all the challenges associated with inclement weather and delivered flawlessly in ensuring the people of Kansas were safe during some of the most dangerous weather scenarios in history. Likely the most prominent was the EF-5 tornado that struck the community of Greensburg, KS in which a tornado 1 ¾ miles wide moved across the community producing catastrophic damage.”
“One other outbreak was on May 3rd, 1999 in which an F4 tornado moved across portions of the Wichita metropolitan area endangering thousands of lives. Each of these national significant outbreaks had the potential to produce a considerable number of fatalities and injuries. However, the knowledge and respect that Mr. Teller has within the community due to his calm and empathetic demeanor during traumatic times no doubt elicited people to act and seek shelter so that no harm would come to them or their families.”
Merril is a teacher, mentor and friend to many in the newsroom. “I’ve worked with Merril for almost 20 years now and to this day, turn to him for advice. He’s always been a mentor to me in the business. He’s a meteorologist first, but Merril has always had a vioice in our news coverage as well”— KWCH 12 Anchor Michael Schwanke.
Merril has always been dedicated to keeping Kansans informed and safe during severe weather. “Merril served as a calming voice for thousands of Kansans,” KDVR Executive Producer Christina Karaoli Taylor said. “I remember when I first moved to Kansas, I was terrified of tornadoes. Watching Merril during severe weather made me feel safe. When I worked with him on shows at KWCH, I got an even greater appreciation for what he did for our viewers.”
During his nearly 40 years at KWCH, Merril has broadcasted during some of Kansas’ most legendary tornadoes and was often credited with saving the lives of those in their paths. Whether Merril’s forecasting directed you to safety or simply helped you decide how to dress for the day ahead, viewers agree he’s more than just the weatherman, he’s a part of the community.
Humble and friendly, Merril greets every viewer he meets with a smile. “Merril’s goofy attitude sets him apart from most. He can always find a fun and unique way to relate the forecast to the viewers. He’s relatable and reliable, two qualities most meteorologists strive for. If you call him by the wrong name, he’s sure to respond, ‘you can call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner,’” fellow Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher said.
Joining the team to fill our booth at the Kansas State Fair year-after-year, he never fails to draw a line of fans who have grown up with him in their homes. He happily trades stories for hours with countless viewers whose lives his work has impacted. Some say it’s the highlight of their yearly trip to the fair.
In his spare time, Merril supports and encourages the children of his community. He’s spent years working with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals where he “has truly epitomized what it means to be a loyal supporter,” Children’s Miracle Network Director Kara Warkentine said.
He also dedicates time refereeing for a local youth soccer program, serving as a positive role model and sharing his love of sports. Additionally, he’s spent countless hours in classrooms all across the state, enlightening students of all ages to the world of weather forecasting.
Well after he retires, Merril Teller will remain one of the first names Kansans think of when it comes to weather, and we couldn’t be more proud that he served his time with us.