Arthur E. Lake

Inducted: 2003
Born: 1924 - Died:

For generations of Rhode Islanders, Art Lake was the man who greeted them every morning. Lake was featured on WJAR for over sixty years, first as a radio host in 1944, then as an inaugural broadcaster for Channel 10 in 1949. A native of Braintree, Mass., he has lived in Greenville for many years.

Art’s radio career started in the old WJAR studios at the former Outlet Company in downtown Providence, where he first handled station breaks and then graduated to work as a disc jockey and news announcer. He was part of special programs in a broadcast era when radio often featured live studio orchestras.

A senior member of the WJAR-TV Channel 10 staff, he was a popular announcer who started his broadcasting career at the former WJAR radio station in the mid-1940s and migrated to the television station at its start in 1949. Art was Channel 10’s first weekend news anchor, reporting news, weather, and sports. Together, Art and Frank Coletta presented the highest-rated early morning television show in the market and one of the best of its kind in the nation. Their rapport and friendly but professional demeanor put their audience at ease, beginning each weekday at 3:30 a.m. with pre-show preparation.

Over the years, Art worked with talented personalities who achieved national fame, including such stars as Ted Knight of “Mary Tyler Moore Show” fame, “Saturday Night Live” performer Don Pardo, and former “Today” show co-anchor Matt Lauer.

Joan Reid, wife of Larry Reid, president of The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, had a personal experience with Art Lake. When Larry was in Vietnam, Joan moved in with her parents in Garden City and worked in the sales office for a jewelry company in Cranston. One day, Art Lake spoke with dismay on the air that the band on his Seiko watch had broken. Somehow, he learned that Joan’s employer sold replacement Seiko watch bands. He spoke with Joan, who promised to expedite a replacement band for him. The next night, Joan received an on-air “shout out” from Art thanking her profusely for resolving his watchband nightmare.

In 1963, Lake transitioned from news anchor to weather forecaster. This shift was the foundation of Lake’s local legacy, making meteorology a serious feature of the daily broadcast. His fascination with the weather began when government-issued forecasts were frequently incorrect or incomplete. At first, he had only the simplest equipment, gradually gaining access to the more critical meteorological information and sophisticated equipment. During his career, Lake covered some of the worst storms of the 20th century, including 1954’s Hurricane Carol and the Blizzard of ’78. Hurricane Carol hit Rhode Island on August 31, 1954. In one hour, Carol destroyed thousands of homes, sank or damaged 2,000 boats and yachts, and leveled power and telephone lines throughout the state. Arthur Lake broadcasts warnings before and after the storm hit, bringing comfort to his listeners. The hurricane that hit Rhode Island on September 1, 1938, killed 262 Rhode Islanders because there was no advance warning of the storm.

The Blizzard of 1978 goes down in the record books as the storm that caused Rhode Island’s largest snowfall. Twenty-six Rhode Islanders lost their lives during the storm. But the death toll would have been a lot higher without the steady presence of Art Lake and his warnings and updates. He reportedly did not leave the station for three days, endearing himself to his listeners forever.

Lake handled thousands of televised weathercasts and was well known for his “Today” shows. In 1997, Lake was inducted into the New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle to honor his significant contributions to broadcasting. In 2004, he was inducted into the Gold Circle to recognize over fifty years of contributions. In 1999, he was honored with the Rhode Island History Maker Award bestowed by the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Lake retired from Channel 10 in 2006, and he and his wife Alicia traveled extensively in France, Germany, Switzerland, and England, visiting the lat¬ter country annually. He and Alicia are the parents of three sons. Arthur Lake died on November 22, 2009.

For his contributions to broadcasting and to his fellow man and the fame and distinction he has brought to his community, state, and nation, Arthur E. Lake was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2003.

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