It’s tough business, losing a job.
Longtime local weatherman Terry Swails could have been bitter, given there was neither a warning nor an explanation for his being let go from WQAD-TV at the recent conclusion of his five-year contract.
But Swails was gracious.
Surrounded by about 100 of his supporters at a rally Wednesday outside the Moline studio of the ABC affiliate that snatched him up after he was let go from competitor KWQC, Swails offered thanks.
“I’m not going away,” he promised. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”
He then fetched boxes of the books he authored from his Storm Chaser SUV and began signing away.
“It’s my thank you for your support over the years,” he told his fans.
One such fan, John Miller of Muscatine, organized the rally. He said he met Swails at a book-signing several years ago and was taken by his approachability.
“He was packing up, and I was late, but he invited my son to sit and talk, and we became friends,” Miller said. “This event is not intended as a message to channel 8. It’s just to let him know we’ll follow him wherever he goes, including online (tswails.com).”
Swails’ wife, Carolyn Wettstone, said she hoped the rally would lift her husband’s spirits.
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“Really, this is just supposed to let Terry end his 30 years on TV on a high note,” she said. “I hate to see it any other way.”
But at least one fan was not feeling as charitable toward his former employer.
“I’m upset,” said Annette Rainsford, who drove from LeClaire to show Swails her support. “This is the second time this has happened to him. We thought he was doing a great job at 8. Corporations don’t care about people at all.”
At least one corporation, WGN-TV, Chicago, sent a young messenger to the rally to deliver a gift for Swails.
Tucking the gifts into the back of his SUV, he remarked under his breath, “I’ll cry over this later.”
Then, picking up a book and a Sharpie, he turned to the man at the front of a line and said, “Thanks for your support. It’s Scott, isn’t it?”