KCTV hires replacement for chief meteorologist Katie Horner

KCTV-5 has named a replacement for longtime chief meteorologist Katie Horner.

Chris Suchan, a meteorologist at CBS affiliate WTSP-TV in St. Petersburg, Fla., brings 14 years’ weather forecasting experience to Kansas City, the station said in a statement Thursday.

KCTV described its search to replace Horner as exhaustive. “We’ve been looking for a while,” news director Blaise Labbe told The Star. “There have been several different conversations we’ve had with Katie and with different people” in Kansas City and around the country.

Suchan (pronounced “soosh-un”) will start work at KCTV on Oct. 24 but won’t be on the air until probably early November.

Horner exits after 17 years at Channel 5. She has been chief meteorologist since 1998. When the station announced her departure last summer, it said Horner wanted to spend more time with her young daughters.

Horner has not commented publicly on her reasons for leaving, and she could not be reached.

Asked if Horner was leaving the station of her own accord, Labbe said she was. As for her plans, “I don’t think she really knows at this point,” the news director said.

In KCTV’s statement, Labbe characterized Suchan’s weather reports as “calm and reassuring watching him, you feel as though he is just talking to friends or family. Chris doesn’t believe in hyping weather, or making more out of simple weather events. But if there is severe weather, he issues clear and precise warnings aimed directly at maintaining people’s safety.”

Particularly during KCTV’s “Live. Late-Breaking. Investigative” era under different management, Horner was sometimes perceived as alarmist. She would occasionally stay on the air for hours at a time.

Suchan grew up in a law enforcement family in Virginia and was president of the weather club in high school. He launched his TV career at a station in Harrisonburg, Va. He then spent eight years at a station in Charlotte, N.C.

He has worked at WTSP in Florida since August 2008. He reportedly told the station last summer he would be leaving, and he suggested to the St. Petersburg Times in July that he had another job lined up. If he did, however, it wasn’t with KCTV, Labbe said.

He could not be reached at WTSP on Thursday.

Suchan is “a very likable person, very genuine,” Labbe said. And viewers will “see very quickly how much of a weather geek he really is. This is something he takes very, very seriously and is very passionate about.”