(CBS Detroit) What does it feel like to wake up knowing it’s your last day of work — forever? Is it time for singing and dancing, offering high fives to everyone you see, pasting on an ear-to-ear smile?
Legendary CBS 62 Chief Meteorologist Jim Madaus knows the answer first hand.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “It’s one of those situations where I knew I was going to retire at the end of May and as it gets closer and closer and closer, it’s like ‘wow, it’s here.'”
Madaus celebrated his special final day at work Wednesday with a lunch party with coworkers, and a surprise visitor. His son flew in secretly from his own job as a morning show host in Memphis, Tenn., to wish him well.
“When I saw him I was surprised and happy,” Madaus said. “It was just a joy to see him come in for my last day.”
Madaus has been a broadcaster for 42 years, with 33 of those years spent in Detroit. The highlight of his career, he says, is the memory of the great people he’s worked with.
That’s the part he’ll miss the most.
“I worked with so many wonderful people,” he said. “That’s the reason I still love what I do.”
He’s looking forward to the freedom of retirement, but circumspect about all the friends he won’t see anymore day to day. Madaus will be replaced by Karen Carter, a woman who has worked alongside him for several years.
“I ended up working at one of the best stations in the city with the nicest people,” he said, describing his feelings on his final day of work. “But on the other hand, I’m looking forward to retirement and enjoying life and traveling, doing whatever I want to do.”
Whatever he wants to do involves spending plenty of time with his wife Jan, his son and daughter, and his beloved golden retriever Harley. He’ll spend plenty of time at Detroit Tigers games and on the links, too.
It’s the kind of leisurely retirement he couldn’t necessarily foresee when he hustled up the ladder at his first job in broadcast journalism at a tiny affiliate in Rockford, Illinois.
“It was kind of a thing where I fell into my job, it just happened,” explained Madaus, a Milwaukee native who has always loved sports, but earned his first college degree in business.
While working as a weekend sports and weather anchor, an opportunity arose when the station’s longtime meteorologist left her job. “All of a sudden, the weather lady decided she didn’t want to do weather anymore and I interviewed for it, and got it.
“At first, I knew enough about the weather to talk about it, and I thought to myself ‘I’m enjoying this …’ I went back to school for atmospheric sciences, I studied hard, and became an official meteorologist.”
In the meantime, Madaus had married his high school sweetheart, and she was by his side as he rose up the ranks of broadcasting from small markets to larger markets — and eventually to the place he dreamed about.
He landed a job in Detroit. “It was my dream come true, my goal,” he said, adding, “My dream was to work in a major league city … of all the places to go, of all the major league cities in the world, I’ve had a wonderful career in a wonderful city.”
What does he love so much about Detroit?
“The people are wonderful, they’re so giving, when we have telethons and things like that, Detroit is one of the cities that’s number one in helping people,” Madaus said. “I love the food, the coney islands, the Better Made potato chips. There’s so much about Detroit that’s unique.”
Tune in to CBS 62 for the 11 p.m. weather report where Madaus will do a special sign off for his final time live on air.