He's a Rainstorm Cowboy
When he’s not forecasting the weather on FOX 35, Jim Van Fleet is singing in The Reign.
Jim Van Fleet, morning meteorologist on FOX 35, is also a singer. But, no, he doesn’t sing weather-related ditties like “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Let It Snow” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”
“Of course, that’s going to be the natural assumption,” Van Fleet admits over lunch. “But the battle I fought from Day One was to try to keep it from being too cheesy.”
Country-western music is more to Van Fleet’s taste, although he doesn’t seem especially countrified when he reports the weather. He was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but there’s no particular twang in his voice. And on the news he’s always duded up in those fancy TV suits.
At lunch, the lean, 6-foot-4 weather guy looks a lot more down-home in faded dungarees, a T-shirt and cowboy boots. Instead of a 10-gallon hat, he wears a ball cap.
Van Fleet, 33, broke into radio when he was still in middle school. By age 23, he was doing the weather at ABC’s flagship television station in Dallas. He started at FOX 35/WOFL-TV in 2001.
Growing up, he had always loved to sing, but he was “too scared” to try to make a career of it. (When he sings, a country twang does seep into his voice, giving it a smoky barbeque flavor.)
About five years ago, his mother died unexpectedly at age 49. As she was being laid to rest, his mind was racing.
“If you’ve got any dreams that you’re not living, you better start looking at it, because you never know,” he found himself thinking.
Soon after that, Van Fleet began to put together his band, The Reign (not The Rain). He has co-written and recorded two albums, Not Enough Ground and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, and has performed throughout the state. (You can hear him this month at the Volusia County Fair.)
A single dad with a 4-year-old son, Van Fleet lives in Sanford. One of his songs, “Rain Man,” does happen to have a weather theme.
“It’s got that Southern rock, blues feel to it,” he says of the song, which concerns a rainmaker who is double-crossed by the town that hires him. “Ironically, just about every time we’ve played it live, it’s rained.”