Neal Pascal, who spent more than 25 years forecasting weather in the Chattanooga area before being sentenced in a mortgage fraud scheme, will join the WRCB-Channel 3 news team as a meteorologist, according to an announcement Thursday.
“We have been talking about this for several months and are delighted to have Neal Pascal join the Eyewitness News team,” said Tom Tolar, president and general manager of WRCB. “He will be working on our behalf immediately, and his first on-air appearance will be prior to the start of the fall season.”
Mr. Pascal was awarded a degree in meteorology from Texas A&M University in 1977, moved to Chattanooga in 1981 and was chief meteorologist at WTVC-NewsChannel 9.
His contract with WTVC included a noncompete clause that prevented any earlier return to local broadcasting, Mr. Pascal said.
“I’ve missed telling people about what the weather is going to be and feel it was destined that I eventually return,” he said. “Tom Tolar and everyone at WRCB have graciously given me a second chance, and I will uphold my end by doing what I really love … television weather that provides real coverage our viewers can count on.”
In April 2007, Mr. Pascal was sentenced to three months of home detention as part of a three-year probationary term for making a false statement on a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development form.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier also ordered Mr. Pascal to pay a $4,000 fine and produce a video explaining mortgage fraud and the legal ramifications of getting caught in such a scheme.
According to court records, Mr. Pascal bought houses from home owners and, after negotiating a price, would convince the sellers to inflate that value to allow him to borrow more from the lender.
Mr. Tolar said Paul Barys will remain chief meteorologist at WRCB. The team of Mr. Barys and Mr. Pascal will provide opportunities to expand the station’s weather coverage, he said. Regular broadcasts, online weather and programming for WeatherPlus, a joint operation between NBC and the local affiliate that is found on digital channel 3.2, will benefit from the two meteorologists, Mr. Tolar said.
“We are excited about it and how the new team will be received,” he said.
Mr. Tolar also said that weekend meteorologist Brian Travers will be leaving the station.
“Brian is with us for the present time,” he said. “He will be leaving sometime between now and the fall.”
Last year, Mr. Travers drew national attention when ABC’s “Primetime” aired a story about the 2002 slaying in Texas of a former co-worker and girlfriend of Mr. Travers. The police in Abilene, Texas, said then that Mr. Travers had not been ruled out as “a person of interest” in the case.
Mr. Tolar told the Chattanooga Times Free Press after the story aired that it had nothing to do with Mr. Travers’ employment.
Mr. Travers said Thursday afternoon that he was not at liberty to comment on events in Texas or Tennessee.
After leaving WTVC, Mr. Pascal opened the Jet Stream Grill on Frazier Avenue. He said that business has developed to the point at which managers can handle things, and he plans to remain a restaurateur while returning to his first love: weather.
“As a little child my first words were ‘cold outside,’” Mr. Pascal said.
Video: Pascal returns to airwavesFormer WTVC Channel 9 meteorologist Neal Pascal, who owns Jet Stream Grill in North Chattanooga, is set to return to the air this fall as weekend meteorologist on WRCB Channel 3. Mr. Pascal joins Channel 3 meteorologist Paul Barys, his former competitor, at the station.