Sunny Disposition

Denville home after a busy week in front of the camera.

Denville home after a busy week in front of the camera.

STAYING COOL IN DENVILLE: Chief meteorologist Janice Huff relaxes in her Denville home after a busy week in front of the camera. Janice Huff relaxes in her Denville home after a busy week in front of the camera.

PUPPY LOVE: Janice Huff adopted pooch Porter after spotting him on a TV segment about pet adoption.

On a blustery evening high atop Rockefeller Center, Janice Huff prepares for one of her Top of the Rock weather broadcasts as fans gather around. For the laid-back and down-to-earth Huff, it’s no big deal as she chats with fans, listens to a producer’s voice in her earpiece, and simultaneously coordinates cues with the cameraman.

Moments later, during a private Park Place interview in Studio 7A (surrounded by some of the world’s most-advanced weather technology), Huff, 50, recalls the early days of her career, her good fortune in landing an assignment in New York, and her relaxed life in suburbia with husband Warren and their prized pooch, Porter.

Landing a Plum Gig in New York
Huff first hit the New York news scene in 1995, working with NBC’s Al Roker and News 4 New York as a weekend meteorologist. One year later, Roker moved to the Today Show to replace Willard Scott, and Huff was awarded the coveted weeknight spot as chief meteorologist.

Today, she broadcasts at 5, 6, 7 and 11 pm each weeknight, and also is a staple on the Today Show every Sunday morning. Huff admits that stepping up to a national broadcast was a momentous point in her career. “I was so nervous. On my first day on the Today Show, after the broadcast from Rockefeller Center, I walked through the lobby and coming straight toward me was Richard Nixon. He had just seen my first broadcast and he shook my hand. All I could say was, ‘Why, thank you, Mr. President!’ I’ll never forget that moment.”

Huff sometimes appears on New York Live (formerly LX-NY) and, for the last 12 years, she has moderated the Freddie Mac Foundation’s award-winning Wednesday’s Child segment, an initiative to place foster children in permanent homes. Huff, too, has been the recipient of numerous awards for her passionate advocacy of children’s causes and other community-related issues.

She’s come a long way since her earlier stints as a game show emcee for NY Wired, and a short-lived gig as the host of a magazine show called Winner Next Door.

But if you think this very successful local celebrity takes herself seriously, you’d be wrong. “These days, I pretty much do my own thing. We don’t have budgets for car transfers, so I take NJ Transit to work every day, and my husband picks me up each night after the 11 o’clock broadcast,” she says. “Although the network provides me with hair and makeup professionals, I’m my own stylist and all the clothes I wear on television are my own,” says Huff, who loves to shop and owns more than 400 pairs of shoes (see sidebar).

Although she is one of the most recognized faces on today’s weather scene, Huff is continually surprised that people know her around the world.

“Three years ago, I was on a flight to Paris to see the French Open when a fellow passenger said, ‘Oh my goodness!  It’s you!’ It turned out she was a Parisian living in New York, and she asked me to pose for a photo with her in the middle of Charles de Gaulle Airport,” says Huff.

“People even recognize me in Hawaii, where I travel every year. Once I was in the ocean in my bathing suit and a man popped up and said, ‘Excuse me, don’t I know you?’”

The Early Years
Born in Harlem and raised by her single mother until the age of five, Huff moved to her maternal grandparents’ home in South Carolina “because my mother just couldn’t manage to work and also care for me.”

But, even at a young age, she happily weathered the storm. “As an only child, I talked to myself all the time. I staged puppet shows for my stuffed animals and that’s how I entertained myself,” says the upbeat Huff. “That was actually great training for my broadcast career because I became a natural talker.”

After enjoying a successful high-school career (honors student, student council secretary, varsity cheerleader), she attended Florida State University (she’s a die-hard Seminoles fan) and landed an internship with the National Weather Service for two years during college breaks.

“I learned so much from adults in the industry, and that’s where I got my practical experience. They taught me about radar analysis and I even worked on the hydrology desk. I collected data from rain gauges, coordinated river data and fielded phone calls. It was awesome and, as a young student, I just kept thinking, ‘Are you really letting me do this?’”

Huff’s next break came in 1987, when she scored a coveted on-air position as meteorologist for KSDK in St. Louis. “We were one of the first stations to get a robotic camera and there were still a lot of bugs with the technology. One day I took my mark in the weather center and, as I was talking, the camera slowly began to pedestal down. So I just maintained my eye contact with the camera, kept talking, and followed it all the way down to the floor without missing a beat.”

“But today’s latest technology is insane,” she adds, “and it makes my job so much easier. The staff produces the weather graphics and I don’t even use a script or teleprompter. I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t need them.”

Life in Morris County
Weekends at Huff’s two-story suburban home in Denville are pretty laid-back, she admits, after working five evenings a week, plus rising each Sunday at 5 am to appear on the Today Show.

Her home’s interior is awash in shades of pale blue, seafoam and camel, with Huff’s career memorabilia organized in her comfy office. It’s chock-full of television-industry souvenirs, photos of friends and colleagues, and diplomas and awards. Outside is a cheery deck and swimming pool surrounded by mature blue hydrangeas, a rock wall and high hedges and trees.

“I love Denville because we enjoy the woods and the wide open spaces here. My husband, Warren, and I both have family within two miles of our house,” says Huff. “Saturdays are my only day off, so I don’t mind vegging at home, going to the movies, and playing with Porter.”

Porter is Huff’s pride and joy. She first spotted the black Labrador puppy while doing a segment about pet adoption. “As soon as I saw him on the studio monitor, I knew I wanted him. So I called Warren and said, ‘Are you watching the show? Did you see your new son?’ Yes, he had seen the broadcast, and yes, he agreed that we needed to adopt Porter.”

Huff’s husband was born and raised in Morris County. They first met in 1973 when he was eight and she was 12. She was visiting her Morristown cousins who happened to be his next-door neighbors.

“I stopped coming to New Jersey just before I started college, and didn’t see Warren again for 20 years. When I returned for a visit, I was actually hoping to see his older brother because I always liked him. What I didn’t realize was that little brother Warren always had a crush on me. When I came back years later and saw Warren all grown up, I thought, ‘Gee, he turned out great!’”

The long-time friends quickly became reacquainted and, after five months, began to date.
“On what turned out to be our first date, Warren wanted to spend more time with me, so he told me that his mother invited me to dinner. One year later, after we were married, I finally discovered that Warren’s mom hadn’t actually invited me to dinner that evening at all. In fact, she didn’t even want guests that night. Warren had just wanted to spend the evening with me—and it’s turned out to be one long and lovely date ever since.”

Huff says that she and her husband have been inseparable since 1995, and they enjoy spending most of their free time together—rain or shine.

Putting Her Best Foot Forward

If an award were bestowed for the largest and coolest personal footwear closet, Janice Huff would be a shoe-in. Hercollection of 20+ years occupies an entire bedroom of her Denville home—and an adjacent coat closet, to boot.

“This is one of the reasons I live in Denville,” says Huff with a laugh. “There’s not enough space in New York for my shoes.” Conversely, if you ask Huff’s husband how many shoes he owns, he matter-of-factly replies, “I have like six pairs.”

Louboutin, Blahnik, Choo and Sigerson Morrison are names near and dear to this television personality. “I realize that I can’t wear them all, but I just love to collect them,” she says. If you ever wonder why your favorite high-end shoe boutique is sold out of size 10s, it’s probably because Janice Huff has paid a recent visit.

Janice Huff’s Local Favorites

Since she works in Manhattan six days a week, Janice Huff likes to stay close to her Denville home on weekends. Here are a few of her favorite local haunts:

✹ My husband and I like the Black Horse Pub in Mendham because it’s the best place to watch the Kentucky Derby—and they have great nachos and desserts!
✹ When we don’t feel like cooking or going out, we get take-out from Thai Chef in Denville. My favorite is their pad Thai.
✹ I enjoy the Shoppes at Union Hill in Denville, especially Pier 1. You can accessorize your entire home there!
✹ “Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, we didn’t have a washer and dryer. So, every Saturday, we went to a laundromat that happened to be above a Dairy Queen. You could always find me there. Even today, when I’m in the mood for ice cream, I’ll drive over to the Randolph Dairy Queen.

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About this article

Author: Issue: Sep/Oct 2011
Credits: Photographed by John Emerson; Makeup by: NURDAN CELIK of Panico Salon & Spa in Ridgewood.
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