CBS Weather Man joins the Mercy College Faculty

By Shedeiky Hamilton

“A perfect profession is one which causes you to get out of the bed and start your day. For me it is a microphone, a poem, or a classroom,” stated Ira Joe Fisher, a CBS weatherman and now an English professor at Mercy College.

Fisher, a resident of Connecticut, began his career at the age of 16 as a disc jockey for the WGGO-AM radio, in Salamanca. During this time, he was a student at Little Valley Central High School in his hometown of Little Valley, New York. After graduating high school, Fisher enrolled at Suny Fredonia where he studied theater, then in 1969 completed his Bachelors in Russian at Syracuse University. He later earned his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from New England College.

“At a young age I wanted to be a broadcaster and an entertainer, and that is why I went into communication,” responded Fisher.

With this passion in mind, he accepted a job at KHQ-Radio in Washington, where he worked from 1970-1980 as a disc jockey and a reporter. During this time he met and married his wife of 30 years, and they had four children.

Fisher also hosted The Ira Joe Fisher Show on WKRC Television in Cincinnati which was a daily program of current music, comedy, and characters he impersonated.

“The show was a variety of interviews, comedy bits, and serious issues,” added Fisher. “Some of the guests were Jonathan Winters, baseball greats Pete Rose and Jonny Bench, and the author Leon Uris.”

Fisher continued in the field of radio and television broadcasting and has worked at numerous television stations throughout the region. He was the weather and feature reporter for ABC’s Eyewitness News back in the early ’80’s, while making appearances on the Morning Show with Regis Philbin and Kathy Gifford.

He later moved on to NBC and CBS, where he has held the position of a feature reporter for CBS Saturday Early Show since 1999.

“Being a broadcaster is what I enjoy doing, but I also wanted to write,” added Fisher. “I love reading and watching people perform. It inspires me.”

This inspiration led Fisher to write his two books “Some Holy Weight in the Village Air,” which is about a village and the people living in it though a combination of lyric and narrative poems, and “Songs from an Earlier Century,” which consists of a more conventional collection of poems, musing on life, and nature.

“I was inspired to write ‘Some Holy Weight in the Village Air’ because it is the village that I grew up in, and I wanted to tell people about it,” stated Fisher.

Some of his poems have appeared in Poetry New York, The New York Quarterly and the anthology Confrontation. He has written columns for the Stamford Advocate and the Greenwich Times, and was also the contributing editor and essayist for the monthly Spokane magazine.

Fisher has also lived out one of his many passions, that of acting. He has acted in the off Broadway production “The Fantastiks,” and the Broadway production of “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Outside of the theater and television, Fisher also enjoys teaching. He began in 2003 at New England College, where he taught Public Speaking and Poetry. He also taught Writing in the Disciplines at Pace University and Poetry and Creative Writing at the University of Connecticut.

Fisher was introduced to some of the members of the Mercy College administration who invited him to teach classes here which he happily accepted. He believes that Mercy’s English program brings him great satisfaction and he is glad to be a part of it.

“This is my first semester at Mercy, and I am delighted with the students that I have met. They show up early, participate and are very happy about education,” stated Fisher.

Fisher teaches Creative Writing and Short Story, and is hoping to teach a poetry course in the fall. Outside of television, he enjoys spending time in the classroom.

“I love being in the classroom,” added Fisher. “I like the sound of words and music, and I find them both in literature.”

Fisher believes that it is natural for a person to teach something they have a passion for, and his passion lies in literature. He draws from his experience, but also has a wealth of other people’s experience to draw from.

“I rely on the charming wisdom of Emily Dickenson, the bravado of Hemingway, the wisdom and indignation of Alice Walker, the crustiness of Robert Frost, and the bubble and fizz of Shakespeare.”

With the influence of these outstanding poets and writers, Fisher wanted to experience some of the paths that they trod and the places they wrote about. He visited the homes of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Frost’s homes so that it could help him when teaching their works.

“I visited Frost’s place in Hyla Brook because he was very space specific,” added Fisher. “I got to relive the poems and see what his muse was for a particular poem, which was amazing.”

Through this insight, Fisher is now content to look at any place and look at it in his own terms which inspires him to write about it. He enjoys old black and white movies and is constantly reading literature.

“Give me a book and I will be so happy, because I will live in it for the duration of that book.”

Fisher enjoys broadcasting but holds literature close to his heart. Rather than reading books by his former colleague Bernard Goldberg attacking CBS or other media criticism books, Fisher instead enjoys the books of literary icons.

“What is appealing about broadcasting is the friendships that I have, and all the jokes that we shared together,” added Fisher. “And do I want to go home and read a book that some guy has written because he has issue with broadcasting? No! Give me a book about Hemingway and I’ll dive right into his world.”

Fisher, the awardee of two regional Emmy Awards for television at WKRC, also was the recipient of the National Father of the Year Award from the Father’s Day Council of New York, back in 1991. In 2008, he was the Distinguished Advocate for Culture and Tourism in Connecticut.

He hopes to leave behind a book of poems which will reflect him and others. He doesn’t see himself as an interesting person; to him, life is interesting. He finds comfort in the classroom where he is able to transfer his love for literature to his students.

“Literature is the great gift that will allow us to never be bored.