A DREAM COME TRUE FOR THIS LOCAL WIFE & MOTHER WEST SUBURBAN CHICAGO–Mary Kay Kleist joined CBS 2 Chicago in 2002 and while at the station became a “Certified Broadcast Meteorologist”, the highest distinction in the industry. She has earned an AMS Seal of Approval, an NWA Broadcasting Seal of Approval, and has won several Emmy Awards.
Over the years, Mary Kay has crossed paths with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Michael Jackson, Mary Lou Retton, Zac Efron, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Jane Pauley; but, even with all her fame, Mary Kay’s Naperville neighbors still see her as just another mom on the block - always in workout wear, hair in a ponytail, and no makeup.
As a child, Mary Kay was always fascinated with the sky and with storms, but never thought of it as a career. Even when she first started college, she wanted to be an air-traffic controller, but while attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Hurricane Hugo was targeting central Florida.
“My friend was interning at the Orlando CBS television affiliate and suggested I come to the station to volunteer with the Red Cross for the night; so, I went and answered phones, and watched their 26 year old female chief meteorologist constantly update the storm,” she says. “It was that night when I realized a young female could do this job."
Mary Kay asked about an internship and began the process to work in the weather department. She launched her career in Savannah (ABC), then CLTV in Chicago (Tribune), then Tampa (NBC), then Detroit (ABC), and now Chicago (CBS) for the last 16 years.
“I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin (watching WBBM-TV) so it’s a dream come true to work at CBS2,” Mary Kay says. “I love how vibrant Naperville is for families. My children attended Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School. It was so wonderful to live in a place where they could walk a few blocks safely with friends after school to visit the candy store, library, yogurt shop, etc. They are 18and 20 now; whenever we run along the Riverwalk together they always say Naperville was the best place to grow up.”
Lately, Mary Kay and her husband have been discovering the new Water Street area and love Santo Cielo, Sparrow, and Craftsman; but, be on the lookout because a little known fun fact is that Mary Kay can still flip and walk on her hands, and finds that going upside-down is a great stress reliever. She’s also been known to flip off the diving board at Centennial Beach! -Kristen Kucharski, Features Writer – Photo Submitted