Chief Meteorologist Mark Koontz announces retirement - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Chief Meteorologist Mark Koontz announces retirement

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – 21 WFMJ Chief Meteorologist Mark Koontz is retiring on Friday, January 4, 2013, bringing to a close a career spanning 40 years as a weather expert in the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio. 

Mark joined 21 WFMJ in 2002 as the weekend meteorologist and was promoted to chief meteorologist in 2007.

Mark began his career in Cleveland where he quickly became known as a national weather expert, particularly when it comes to Northeast Ohio weather.

On Mark's retirement, 21 WFMJ General Manager Jack Grdic said, "We wish Mark all the best in his retirement. He's truly ‘The Dean' of Northeast Ohio weather and he has been a terrific colleague."

Grdic added that he will always remember Mark's live reporting during massive flooding in Columbiana County. "I can still see him standing near a raging river of water that nearly swept him up. He really brought the story home to the viewers and it was some of the best live weather reporting ever done by the station," Grdic said.

Meteorologist Eric Wilhelm has been hired as Mark's replacement. Eric is a Buckeye, having graduated with a degree in meteorology from The Ohio State University. Eric hails from nearby New Philadelphia, Ohio and most recently was a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, Inc.

Wilhelm says, "I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to succeed a truly extraordinary meteorologist and broadcaster as Mark Koontz."

Grdic says, "Eric Wilhelm comes to us with a remarkable background and knowledge of weather and in his short time here has impressed us with his right on the money forecasts." Grdic says he's also excited about some of the enhancements Eric plans to bring to WFMJ's weather department.

The station is also announcing the official addition of Jess Briganti as weather forecaster to the station's popular morning show, WFMJ Today. Jess has been filling in on the show since the departure of Mark Monstrola.

Grdic says, "Jess the perfect addition to WFMJ Today. She has an energy that is contagious and she is a pleasure to watch."

Finally, station executives say they are grateful to Mark Koontz for helping to put together the next generation of the station's weather experts. Grdic promises that WFMJ's Storm Tracker Weather will expand both online and on-air as the station moves forward in the New Year.

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