DECATUR — Anthony Peoples has been on the radar screens of Central Illinoisans since he arrived in Decatur a year ago. But his notoriety goes beyond his job as meteorologist for a local television station.
The morning weather forecaster also can be seen walking in areas around Lake Decatur with his eyes focused on his latest read.
“I have more people ask ‘Are you the guy that walks on 36?,’ ‘Are you the guy that walks on Lost Bridge?’,” he said. “That’s me.”
Peoples, 56, said he made the jump from walking on a treadmill to the great outdoors about four years ago.
“I find it easier to walk outside and read, because sometimes I forget to lift up my feet on the treadmill,” he said. “You almost fall that way.”
The outdoors is more enjoyable for the WAND-TV morning weatherman. Since reading is another enjoyment, he combines the two pastimes.
“I’m still aware of what’s going on around me,” Peoples said.
He often stops to talk to the people along the nearly 16-mile journey around Lake Decatur. “In the social distancing era, you still get to socialize,” Peoples said.
While some choose to alter their plans based on the forecast he provides, Peoples said he rarely lets the weather get in the way of his walk.
"There were a couple of days I had to make different routes to walk, because I couldn’t get across the (U.S.) 36 bridge,” he said. “The sidewalk was snow covered.”
Peoples said winter in Central Illinois is mild when compared to Duluth, Minnesota, where he was previously employed. Duluth, he said, often experiences 80 to 100 inches of snow in a season.
“You just tromp through it and walk faster,” he said.
As a meteorologist and a reporter, Peoples has been employed at stations throughout the Midwest, including Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as other areas of the country, such as Texas, Maryland and Florida.
If the weather isn’t ideal for reading, Peoples will carry a plastic bag to protect his reading material. Leaving the books at home, he said, isn’t an option.
“It gets boring,” he said about the trek.
Reading a book during his walk, he said, is a welcome distraction.
“I think too much,” he said. “My mind is like a television. There’s so many channels. I think about so many things. This keeps me focused.”
While some question whether they could effectively read a book and walk at the same time, Peoples said he isn't concerned about his safety. His peripheral vision allows him to see the obstacles and the environment around him. “I know when there’s steps that I need to step down,” he said.
Peoples said he has never fallen during his many walks. “Since I walk the same routine, I know where the bricks in the sidewalk are and where to step up,” he said. “I’m pretty aware of where I’m going.”
Autobiographies or real-life events are favorite books during his journeys. The size of the book doesn’t matter.
"His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life" by Jonathan Alter or "The Great Believers" by Rebecca Makkai are a couple of his favorites.
“A 600-page book, unless it’s a very technical book, I can get through it in about three days,” he said. “If it’s a larger book, I’m less prone to drop it.”
Gallery: A look back at Decatur-area broadcast personalities
GALLERY: A look back at Decatur-area broadcast personalities
Herald & Review, February 1990
Herald & Review, May 1998
WSOY basketball broadcast
WAND projection machine
WTVP Edwin Pianka, assistant chief engineer
WTVP sales staff
Ashonti Ford WAND
Fultz, J.C. (James)
WSOY record library
Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR