Maple Grove resident and Fox 9 meteorologist (and host of the Buzz) talks about his career, family and the Green Lantern.
The man talks fast and his brain moves even faster. He’s a math and science wiz who calculates the latest weather forecast and translates it into language that lets us know what to wear on any given day and what to be prepared for during the morning commute.
He’s a family man, a comic book geek, a good cook, and an eager entertainer with game-show-host dreams. And, if you are a fan of Fox 9 you probably know almost everything there is to know about meteorologist and talk show host Keith Marler, because he tells you on the air.
The one thing viewers definitely know about Keith Marler is what’s going on with his family. Mention of wife Susan, daughter Grace (8) and son Jack (6) are as much a part of the everyday banter of Marler’s morning show, the Buzz, as is the latest movie review, celebrity guest or local event preview. Keith and Susan met at the University of Maryland; she to become a teacher, he to pursue a degree in math and physics. After Keith finished a Masters in Meteorology they moved to his first job as a weatherman, in Duluth. A brief position in Washington D.C. led to yet another offer in Minnesota, with Fox 9. “I had one weekend to find a house and Keith had looked at 50 houses before I came to look,” Susan says.
Marler had lined up eight finalists for Susan to look at and they ended up buying the first one she saw. “It just felt right,” Susan claims. Ten years later they still live in Maple Grove, have put down roots and started a family. His kids think it’s pretty cool to have a dad on TV and they’ve grown accustomed to it. Having a public figure in the family brings its own perks and responsibilities.
“We remind the kids that because people recognize daddy, that they also know who they are,” Susan says. “They are good kids, but we encourage them to do their best in public—to use their best words.” The Smarts The entire family is good with words, and Marler may not admit it but others will attest that he knows his business. He can take an abstract concept like time-space theory and explain it in layman’s terms; It’s one thing to understand the science behind an idea and quite another to be able to communicate it clearly to others.
Marler excels at both so viewers don’t simply hear about the weather, they feel that they understand the reason for the weather. And Minnesotans have an obsession with the extremes of weather, so Marler is popular. In fact he was recently named “Twin Cities Best weatherperson” by Citypages and gained national attention when named, “America’s Favorite Weather Forecaster” in a poll taken by weatherist.com, an online weather service.
Marler may “explain it all for you” but his popularity is in no small part due to his easy going, random, always-ready-with-a-comeback manner. He has the luxury of not delivering hard-hitting news of the latest shooting or city council decision, so his fun nature is always appropriate. Above all, he is without pretense, and Minnesotans love honesty. Fox 9 anchor Tom Butler says “Whenever we’re at an event together people will say they love how we give each other a bad time on the air. I always joke, ‘yes, Keith is the little brother I’m glad I never had!’”
Comic Obsession There’s no doubt that Marler would share with any brother his love of comic books. “When I was 7 or 8, I was sick and my dad brought home my first issue—Green Lantern,” says Marler. Although he’s accumulated dozens over the years, he says he’s not so much a collector as someone who just likes to read the ongoing adventures. If there were a fire in the house, he wouldn’t mind losing them, although he’s sentimental about that first one from his dad. Green Lantern’s power ring would be a handy tool, but Marler doesn’t seem to need one to exercise control over his physical world. Even wife Susan says she doesn’t know how he runs on so little sleep (see daily schedule). “He doesn’t drink coffee either,” she adds.
All Dressed Up
One thing Marler admits he could use help on is his wardrobe, so we asked two area stylists to meet with Keith and, with the help of the local Brooks Brothers in the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, outfit Keith for a photo shoot in something that fits his personality. We think it looks better than green superhero spandex. Either way, don’t be surprised if Marler does show up on-air in spandex someday. If it helps make his point, he’s up for almost anything. We asked local stylists Leah McMullen and Carrie Erickson of Blackjove to spend some time doing what they do best, helping men find, tweak, or update their personal style. From the vast stock of excellent wardrobe pieces at Brooks Brothers, they helped Keith feel comfortable for a photo shoot inside the store.
“When we initially sat down with Keith, he told us that the place in his wardrobe that he was really lacking was weekend/going out clothes. He has two gears, as a lot of guys do, which is they have work clothes and they have play/bum around clothes. We wanted to give him things that he could wear to casual events and going out with his wife that weren’t a suit or a suit coat. The purple is not only a great color for spring and summer but it really was versatile enough that it could go under his navy work suits or be worn alone out on the weekends.”—Leah McMullen
A Day in the Life Keith Marler is accustomed to rising in the middle of the night in order to have the FOX 9 weather forecast ready for the earliest of risers in the Twin Cities. We’d challenge anyone to pull off this kind of schedule! 2:15 a.m. Wake-up (average time). “I don’t always get up on the first alarm,” Marler admits.
Next, gather info for weather report and build graphics—“The math and science part of his job,” says wife Susan Marler.
2:45 a.m. Call into the station with a remote weather briefing.
3:15 a.m. Morning commute. Marler does not eat breakfast at home. “It takes too much time.”
3:45 a.m. Arrive at the Fox 9 station in Eden Prairie; apply makeup: “I do my own makeup. It’s a quick couple seconds in front of a mirror.”
4:30 a.m. On-air every seven to eight minutes with the weather, and continually on for the next 5-1/2 hours.
5:30 a.m. Check in with Buzz producer Eric Reyers.
9 a.m. Finish morning weather reporting and start the Buzz, an hour long program with interview guests, lifestyle topics and general joviality, accompanied by co-host Alix Kendall.
“Keith Marler defies all that we know about this business. He’s dull, ordinary, has excessive hair, and… really only understands Portuguese.” —Buzz co-host, Alix Kendall
Kendall’s comment echoes the tenor of the show. It is unscripted, easy going fun. Marler admits to liking the freedom it affords him. “I like the ad lib thing and controlled chaos,” he says.
And, indeed, the “ad lib” thing makes the show seem like it’s always on the edge of a surprise. Example: Marler recently donned a curly red wig to give a movie review of the Disney film Brave. He also cooked his mother’s pot roast on the set (Susan by his side), along with mashed potatoes and green beans after which the cast proceeded to do more than just taste, they clamored over one another for a meal right there on camera.
Marler’s son Jack made an appearance, walking unexpectedly onto the set, which everyone took it in stride, continuing to eat; just another day on the Buzz. 10 a.m. Wrap up the Buzz.10-10:30 a.m. Shoot web and daily topical promos.
“The latest FOX 9 weather team commercial is a perfect example of Keith’s personality…While ice fishing he is checking the FOX 9 weather app and drops his cell phone into the hole in the ice and screams “son of a lutefisk”. Keith can always find the laugh in life.”—Ian Leonard, chief meteorologist, Fox 9 10:30 a.m.
Meet with producers about the next day’s show, finish administrative tasks like building the weather crawl, e-mails, social media answers, dig up info about scheduled guests, leave notes for evening meteorologist Ian Leonard.
11 a.m. Leave for home. Noon. Meet son Jack at school bus (if Marler gets home in time), otherwise, lunch with Jack and Susan.
1-3 p.m. Nap (three times a week.)
3:40 p.m. Daughter Gracie arrives home from school and Keith oversees homework or heads out with the kids to Target for groceries. Back home, he starts dinner.
9 p.m. Bed. “I really try for 8:30 p.m.”
2:15 a.m. Wake-up. Yet another day in the happy life of Mr. Keith Marler, meteorologist, husband, devoted father, comic book enthusiast, good cook, Maple Grove resident and all-around goofy guy.