The kult of Al Kaprielian

By MIKE MILIARD  |  February 6, 2009

It isn't just the ease with which he explains frontal passages and amplitudinal jet streams that's earned Kaprielian his fervent following, or seen him laurelled with august honorifics such as "Best Weather Forecaster" in the Nashua Telegraph's 2004 Readers' Choice Awards, or made him famous enough to lend his inimitable voice to a new line of Al Kaprielian ring tones. (Download yours at mytvstation.tv!)

A large part of Kaprielian's strange appeal is his voice. He has a chirpy, gravelly, adenoidal, marble-mouthed, Natick-accented way of speaking that often finds him running his words together excitedly, so that the greeting "good afternoon everyone, this is MyTV meteorologist Al Kaprielian" becomes a pace-quickening verbal torrent: Goodaftnoonevywonethisizmytvmeterologisstalkaprillion!

But viewers love him for more than his voice (think Tom Menino with a lung full of helium). It's the way he gesticulates emphatically, peppering his forecasts with exclamations from the Three Stooges — woopwoopwoopwooopwoooop — and moving his diminutive frame in front of the virtual map, waving his arms over undulating jet streams with awkward but weirdly balletic precision, like a happy hobbit dancing to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It's the impish grin, the pumped fist, the impassioned exhortations. ("Let's give Mother Nature a round of applause!") It's his guilelessness, coupled with his evident snow-pure reverence for the vagaries of New England's climate.

People stop him on the street for an autograph. They request his impromptu catch phrase (High presha!). They log on to the Web to discuss him on message boards, to post clips of him on YouTube, to make MySpace tributes, to be part of the Al Kaprielian Fan Club on Facebook. On the Internet, Kaprielian discussion runs wild.

"I believe that they time Al's commercials to come on at the exact moment the Sun and Earth align with Saturn or something, which is why Al's always in such a good mood," writes the founder of the Facebook club.

"Does he really speak as squeakily in real life?" wonders another fan. "And is he little? He seems like it." (Yes. And yes.)

Online reminiscences aren't uncommon. "Remember when Al had just a crappy map behind him and he would stick things to it? And when they finally got computer animations, it looked like it was created on a commodore 64."

"Al," writes one viewer, "is one of the only reasons I'm happy to live in New Hampshire."

"He's a real-life Brick Tamland," marvels another, referring to Steve Carrell's addled weatherman in Anchorman.

One devotee lays it all out on the table: "love this man with everything i got."

Bowie, Obama, Kaprielian
"One of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it," Mark Twain famously said. "There is only one thing certain about it: you are certain there is going to be plenty of it."

So it was luck or fate that Kaprielian was born in New England — in Natick, 47 years ago — because in few places in this country is the weather so protean. And in few places on Earth do people obsess so much about the weather.

As a kid, "I used to look up at the sky a lot," says Kaprielian. "I developed this excitement about the weather at an early age. I used to give the weather to my homeroom class in sixth grade — just start the day with a weather forecast."

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