WDIV-TV4 meteorologist Chuck Gaidica, center, introduces his daughter, Riley Gaidica, left, and wife, Susan Gaidica, right, as he gives instructions before the Detroit Prayer Walk in 2011. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Chuck Gaidica, a familiar face on Detroit television for more than 30 years, plans to step away from the WDIV-TV (Channel 4) weather desk to become a pastor at a Novi church.
In a pointedly slow transition, Gaidica will remain at his current job until August, then cut back to part-time contributions, focusing on special events and good-news features. He'll be replaced on the evening newscasts then by former WJBK-TV (Chanel 2) meteorologist Ben Bailey, who joins WDIV immediately.
“I’m 55. It’s not the normal time to leave a big job at a big station,” says Gaidica, who came to Detroit from Little Rock, Ark., in 1982. “I’m anxious to find out what God has in store for me going forward.”
Gaidica says he’d been wrestling with the direction of his life for the past four years, roughly the same time he’s been working on a master’s in ministry leadership.
With his degree in hand from Cornerstone University, he’ll become pastor of world outreach at Oak Pointe Church, a congregation of more than 3,000 with programs in place as close as Detroit and far away as Zambia.
“He’s going to touch everything for us outside the four walls,” says senior pastor Bob Shirock. “When you get somebody like Chuck, you don’t want to just stick him in an office and have him prepare sermons.”
Likeable and versatile, Gaidica spent five years at WJBK before moving to Channel 4 in 1987. Along with being the station’s primary weathercaster, he has co-hosted coverage of the auto show, summer fireworks, Thanksgiving parades and special events like Stanley Cup victory celebrations.
“Chuck will always be a part of the WDIV family," said WDIV news director Kim Voet, "and we welcome his future special reports and contributions to our big event coverage.”
The three-time Emmy Award winner has also been a regular on the radio, serving as a contributor or co-host on numerous programs and stations. From 2002-04, he was the host of the Breakfast Club on WNIC-FM (100.3), replacing Jim Harper. Six years later, he helped replace another legend, Dick Purtan, at WOMC-FM (104.3).
Gaidica has also operated a production company, co-founded a professional theater and earned a pilot’s license, all while raising five children with his wife, Susan.
With their youngest bound for college in the fall, he says, it was the right time for a transition and a move: they recently downsized to a Northville condominium.
At WDIV, he will continue co-hosting major events and envisions a series of features “that really focuses on good news and good deeds. All stations do that to some extent, but not with a main profile guy.”
He’ll work part-time at the church, Shirock says, until his WDIV contract expires in late summer.
Gaidica stresses that “nobody pushed” him at the TV station, and money was not an issue.
“It was partly me taking stock of my age and my health,” he says. “If I’m going to serve other people, whatever that means, the time seemed right.
“If you’d told me six years ago that I was going to change my life, go to a seminary, sell my house and leave the best job in the city, I would have said, ‘Huh?’”
The church he’s been drawn to, Oak Pointe, began in 1997 with 60 members. Its programs now include an orphanage, health clinic and coffee farm in Zambia, and a refurbishing of Cody High School and the surrounding neighborhood planned for next summer with a coalition of other congregations.
Shirock says he and Gaidica began meeting regularly shortly after the Gaidicas, married now for 34 years, first attended Oak Pointe five years ago.
“You can tell if someone is just going to church, or is truly, genuinely passionate,” Shirock says. He says Gaidica combines an unusual drive with a set of skills and connections unusual for anyone, let alone a novice pastor.
For more than a generation, Gaidica has been one of the principal ambassadors for WDIV.
Now, says his new boss, “We want him to be our ambassador to the world.”