Dianne White Clatto: Remembering Nation’s First Black TV Weathercaster

Dianne White Clatto: Remembering Nation’s First Black TV Weathercaster

During the 1960s, a time of change and struggle for equality and rights, Dianne White Clatto paved the way for broadcast history.

Little did she know that she would rise to the occasion and become the embodiment of progress and change, not only for St. Louis but for the whole country.

Dianne White Clatto has broken so many barriers and here's how:

Breaking Barriers in Education and Fashion

Dianne White Clatto was a pioneer from the time she was a young girl. She completed her education in 1960 at the University of Missouri at Columbia, a university that had recently integrated blacks.

Her academic accomplishments were impressive during a period when black people were discriminated against and segregated in all the facilities in the United States of America.

The same year she graduated, Clatto created another record by being the first black model to work for Stix, Baer & Fuller, and Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis. She played a significant role in changing the fashion industry and paving the way for future generations of African American models. 

A Pioneering Weathercaster

In 1962, Dianne White Clatto took another record by becoming the first full-time African-American weathercaster for KSD-TV (KSDK NewsChannel 5). During the time when African Americans were struggling to get their faces on the screens, she was representing them on the television screens of St. Louis.

Clatto’s career in broadcast stretched over 14 years and she was a popular personality in television as well as radio. She was a beautiful lady with a unique voice that made her popular and people in her community trusted her for weather information.

The extent of Clatto’s influence can be better explained by analyzing the situation in the 1960s. The RTDNA stated that in this period, only 0. 9% of news and media workers were of African American origin.

Currently, African Americans represent approximately 13% of the workforce in television news, and people like Clatto helped to open the door for others. 

A Life of Accidental Fame

Notably, Dianne White Clatto did not plan to be a weathercaster when she was young, but it happened. She had initially intended to become a psychiatric social worker.

But life had other ideas in store for me. “She stumbled into modeling and then stumbled into TV,” her son, Chip Porterfield Clatto said. During an interview with The Weather Channel in February, Clatto recalled her first day at Channel 5 set.

She humorously recalled what she once asked what she was expected to speak about and was answered, “Preferably, something about the weather. ”

This shows how beautiful she was.

Legacy and Impact 

Dianne White Clatto died on May 4, 2015, in McCormack House on Olive near Vandeventer, which was not far from the house in north St. Louis where she grew up. She was 77 years of age.

Clatto had been living her later years in the Central West End, an active area that reflected Clatto’s active persona and strength. Her passing was a sad event, but she left behind a legacy that still motivates people to this day. 

Statistical Analysis and Historical Background

It is only when one looks at the historical background of the civil rights movement and the fight for the rights of black people that one can fully appreciate the accomplishments of Dianne White Clatto. The employment of black people in various professions in the 1960s was very minimal.

Today, although there has been an improvement, representation remains a big problem. For instance, the National Weather Service indicates that there are very few African Americans in the profession; in fact, the American Meteorological Society reports that only 2% of meteorologists in the United States are African American, which makes Clatto’s career path groundbreaking.

She was also the first African American woman to be a weathercaster and opened the door for other black women in the media industry, which is not a diverse field.

According to recent statistics, African American women make up only 5% of the workforce in meteorology, which was long considered a white male preserve. The experience of Clatto’s career was useful in the process of changing the situation and paved the way for further generations.

Remembering Dianne White Clatto

Dianne White Clatto’s story is one of survival, getting caught up in the entertainment industry by mistake and changing the lives of many. She was able to manage and surmount the obstacles of her generation, and thus, she influenced the media significantly.

This story of a young black girl from north St. Louis who grew up to become the first African American female weathercaster is a testament to the advancement of women and also the women's empowerment and the fact that there is still a long way to go for women to be truly represented in all professions.