When a commercial for Jergens Hand & Body Lotion came on the car radio, James Spann started fuming. He was in the middle of firing off some tweets on his iPad while simultaneously scrolling through various radar apps on his phone — “Not the crap apps,” he called them, but rather “the apps that will cost you $9.99.”
The passenger in the front seat was holding another iPad steady so Spann could monitor the local TV coverage coming out of New Orleans as several tornadoes pummeled the corridors north of downtown. He could barely look away from the storms on the screen as he steered his SUV through a hard rain falling on a serpentine county road on the outskirts of Oneonta.
Despite seeming wildly distracted, Spann was never out of control. He was intensely focused — and he’s memorized virtually every mile of striped asphalt in Alabama, a fact that provided some comfort to the journalist who was riding in the back seat.
“This all could’ve been reported an hour ago,” Spann snapped at the radio. “How can they go to a commercial right now? People will die! There are multiple tornadoes on the ground and they’ve just been focusing on one. Unbelievable. Get your heads in the game!”
Instead of cutting back to the tornado coverage after what seemed like an inordinate amount of time on lotion and car dealership advertisements, the station launched into some political commentary coming out of Washington D.C. It was about the Senate confirmation hearing of now-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the American news media was “downplaying terror attacks that are happening around the globe.”
Spann hates politics. His frustration mounted.
“Are they insane?” Spann asked, turning to the passenger in the front seat who had, for half an hour, remained steadfast in his duties as the impromptu iPad gaffer. Spann was now scanning through a litany of satellite radio stations trying frantically to find one that was covering the disaster of the day.
“You have people whose lives could be lost; people in their cars on I-10 trying to listen to what’s going on, and they could have no idea. Instead [the radio station producers] want to cover politics. Please, please let someone be covering this right now,” he pleaded.
Storms rarely occur the way they are depicted in movies or television, he explained (see: Twister), where people are running from a clearly detectable funnel cloud as it moves gradually across the landscape, perhaps laying waste to a rickety barn and a herd of cattle in the process. Rain and debris often make tornadoes hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint from the ground — not to mention trees, buildings and other structures that could be obstructing the view.
So when a dozen or so “debris balls” (a colloquial term used for tornadic debris signatures that appear on radar) are spotted over a heavily-populated area such as New Orleans, it’s not something Spann takes lightly. When such an event occurs, it’s impossible for Spann not to have flashbacks to his marathon coverage for ABC 33/40 on April 27, 2011, a day that saw 218 tornadoes hit cities across the southeast, taking 238 lives in Alabama alone.
“It was our finest and our worst day,” he said, lamenting the deaths of those he and others couldn’t reach in time. Spann said he experienced a period of profound grief afterward and still shoulders some of the weight of what he labeled “an absolutely unnecessary loss of life.”
In the car, it was clear Spann wanted to be on-air, broadcasting to New Orleans, so badly he was nearly crawling out of his skin, all while somehow keeping the car between the lines as he continued to scroll through three different screens, soaking in all the radar data and news coming out of south Louisiana. “When you’re with me, you got connectivity, baby,” he said — easing the tension a bit — to the front seat passenger who was growing concerned about his data usage and had asked for Spann’s mobile wifi password.
Having to be sidelined for such an event isn’t easy for Spann, which was made evident by his observations (or constructive criticisms) of how the local TV meteorologists were openly fretting with each other over how to keep up with the “people-killers” crawling through the bayou parishes.
“It’s hard not to be critical because you just want to take the wheel. These are obviously hurricane people. They just don’t know how to cover something like this. There’s no handbook for it,” Spann said. “It just takes practice, and even then you can’t possibly predict how everything will play out.”
Almost on cue, one of the miniature talking heads on the iPad said to his co-anchor, “This is a tornado emergency. This is not something we see here in Louisiana very often. I’ve been here 10 years, and I’ve never seen one, at least in our area.”
The two anchors discussed the impending disaster for several more minutes until one of them said, “Covington, get to your safe place right now,” words that Spann typically says moments before people could potentially be killed. Spann got quiet and braced for the storm.
Golden Boy in Suspenders
In the world of local TV meteorology, Spann is a singular talent. He’s amassed more than 331,000 Twitter followers and engages vigorously with them daily. By comparison, the more famous Al Roker has 1.3 million Twitter followers; Jerry Tracey, another longtime Birmingham meteorologist and perhaps the second most well-known in the region, has 5,809 followers. It’s fair to say Spann is in the upper tier of fame when it comes to local TV talent. He is an Alabama icon who has become branded into the state’s pop culture and whose face has been tattooed on at least one stranger’s body.
With steely blue eyes and a fine-tuned broadcasting voice which strikes a balance between authoritative and amicable, Spann has been on air, interrupting regularly scheduled programing, since the 1970s in Alabama. The voice took practice, he admitted. He was raised in Greenville, Alabama (before moving to Tuscaloosa), and while in high school, during his initial foray into DJing for local rock’n’roll station WBBR, Spann exuded less of a polished persona and came across more like, in his words, a “greasy country bumpkin who just wanted to listen to some rock’n’roll.”
A grainy video from 1974 posted on YouTube shows an awkward teen with a thick Southern drawl seated behind two turntables and a microphone, having trouble maintaining eye contact with an interviewer while geeking out about shortwave radios and why he doesn’t need an FCC permit to broadcast out to the parking lot of Tuscaloosa High School.
Spann has a unique ability to set himself apart in a field that is saturated with similar personalities and credible forecasters who all relay the same information about the weather to viewers from the relative comfort of a studio green screen. Something that has served Spann’s career well, especially recently, is his belief that the formula-based newscast is becoming a relic of the past. “This is the real screen that people watch me on,” he said, brandishing his iPhone. “This is where people meet me at now.”
That digital acumen, along with his remarkable self-promotion and branding prowess (suspenders and rolled sleeves, catchphrases like “Respect the polygon,” etc.), has led Spann to become the face of ABC 33/40, appearing in nearly all of the station’s promotional packaging. He is the station’s golden boy. If Twitter is any indication of a TV personality’s popularity, Spann is roughly 185 times more famous than 33/40’s longtime nightly news anchor Dave Baird, who has 1,784 followers. Spann has known Baird since they worked together at a radio station in the 1970s, and the two remain good friends. Also worth noting: With 185,000 tweets since joining the social media service in June 2008, Spann averages over 58 tweets a day — and with no social media staff to speak of, Spann has tweeted every single one.
In total, if one combines followers from all his social media platforms, Spann estimates that he reaches close to 850,000 people on Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook, his podcast “Weatherbrains,” Twitter, Pinterest, and other media.
Another attribute that has served Spann well is that he’s a gifted conversationalist who thrives on engaging with others, though he shrugged off the notion that he was a highly social person. “I’m just some goober, man, definitely not the life of the party or anything like that,” he said. “I’d much rather be talking one-on-one with someone, and I tend to get kind of weird when there are a bunch of people talking to me at once,” he added — Twitter notwithstanding.
“The remarkable thing about Twitter is, if I need a picture from Akron, Hale County, I’ll put out a tweet, ‘I need a picture of a storm in Akron.’ I’ll have it like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “And I’ll have five angles on it. I couldn’t buy a report from down there 10 years ago. It’s like a doctor with an x-ray. We’ll see that and know if it’s a wall cloud or a rear flank downdraft or if it’s a shelf cloud or a tornado there. It’s fantastic. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.” He’s honored when people come to him for advice on social media platforms and does his best to respond to everyone, for good or ill.
A Robotic Hillbilly
Having been born in 1956, the ham (amateur) radio was the social media of Spann’s youth. He came of age in rural south Alabama. “My birth certificate says I was born in Huntsville, but who knows? My first memory in life was in Greenville, Alabama, somewhere I bet you’ve never heard of,” Spann said to the journalist as they sat in his windowless 10-by-10-foot office that he jokingly refers to as “the mop closet.”
It is his tiny war room. There are at least three screens on his desk and a microphone for radio spots.
With a desk, a mini refrigerator, and a cluttered shelf adorned with various awards, a bobblehead doll in his likeness, and a basket overflowing with suspenders, there is barely enough room for Spann to curl up on the floor and nap during particularly grueling weather situations. He only sleeps “two or three hours a night,” and that’s when the weather is perfect. As several of his colleagues pointed out, his quick reboot time makes him seem robotic, incapable of exhaustion.
A self-described “hillbilly” (one of the many self-deprecating monikers he has for himself), Spann said that the rural South, and those who have planted their roots in the wooded landscape, has played a large role in his wanting to become a weatherman known for “taking care of the people living in the country.” Such folks are regularly and unfairly slighted when it comes to weather coverage, he said. “They’re discriminated against. I don’t care what anybody says. People that live away from cities are discriminated against in a lot of ways in TV markets. I’m just horrified the way some TV stations…If a tornado is in Alpharetta or Buckhead, you better believe they’re covering it, but the second it moves out of Atlanta’s metro area they’ll just go back to normal.
“So you’re saying their life [in the country] is less important all because you’re getting a nasty email from some guy who missed American Idol or something,” Spann said. He’s made it a point to be as specific as possible when covering storms, even down to the street address or a landmark such as a church or business. It’s something his viewers have taken notice of over the years and have come to expect — his ability to recall roads and places in Alabama when the situation overhead becomes tense.
One example: he was driving with a journalist back from one of his many elementary school visits on a desolate county road and remarked, casually, “Oh, this thing’s saying we only have 10 miles before we run out of gas,” nodding his head toward the gauge on the dashboard. It became clear, four miles later, Spann was just having fun at his passenger’s expense; he was unconcerned because he knew the gas station at The Country Boy Food Mart would be up ahead with a few miles to spare.
His Old Ham Radio
Spann’s father worked at a big lumber operation in Chapman, close to where Hank Williams grew up in south Butler County. When Spann, an only child, was in second grade, his father left. “He just checked out. He abandoned me and my mom. That kind of made for an upside-down life. My father never paid a dime of child support and life got hard. Somehow we held on until the end of fourth grade,” Spann recalled. “It taught me a lot about hard work, becoming the man of the house at seven, and I’m really thankful for that.”
Pausing, he said, “I’m not good at anything. I mean that, I’m speaking the truth. But I will work harder than anybody else to get a task accomplished. And that’s really the only reason I think I’ve been able to find some success.”
Those summers spent trouncing through the muggy, pine-filled woods of Butler County, running home from thunderstorms, helped rope him into his love and respect for weather. There’s one thing Spann is scared of, he said, and that is lightning. “It’s horrifying. I’m horrified of it. But back then we didn’t get it. We’d be running around out there like it was nothing,” he said. “But now, woo boy. No way I’m out there.”
After his father’s departure, mother and son were struggling. Spann’s mother was the secretary at Greenville High School. He doesn’t recall how much money she made, but it wasn’t enough to support them. Since she only needed one more year of college, the two moved to Tuscaloosa where she earned her degree at the University of Alabama. That degree would later allow her to become a high school English teacher. Spann recalled being awestruck by the size of the city when he moved there in fifth grade.
When he was in high school, a tornado hit the town of Brent, in Bibb County, south of Tuscaloosa. At the time Spann’s hobby was tinkering with ham radios. The city radioed for help, and Spann and his friend were among the first to arrive on the grisly scene — they stayed there for three days communicating with state and local agencies.
That event, Spann said, was a moment his life changed. The darkness, the smell, and the silence are seared in his memory. “First responders often refer to it as the scent of death. It’s hard to describe. There’s a smell of pine trees too. You can go home and take a shower, and it will stay on you for days,” Spann said.
Five people were killed that night. “A man died in the Brent Baptist Church named Andrew Mitchell,” he said, exhibiting another little-known quality about the weatherman: he can remember the name of almost every person who died on his watch and, in many cases, even the names of their grieving relatives too. It’s how he pays his respects.
“I think I needed to experience that. The devastation,” Spann said. “A high school guidance counselor isn’t going to tell some kid in the ‘70s to be a meteorologist. They didn’t even know what that was at the time. I loved electronics and I still do. So I decided to go into electrical engineering at the University of Alabama. I would build my own radios. You’d build heat kits to put it together. You’d solder it in place. I think I would’ve made a heck of an electrical engineer, actually.”
While getting his education and still working at the radio station over the next few years, Spann would take his ham radio and travel to afflicted towns where he “saw things [he’s] never talked about in private or in public” and communicate with outside relief agencies. He was hooked.
In 1978 he got a call from Channel 33 in Tuscaloosa (which is still part of the 33/40 conglomerate) where he did “everything” from anchoring the news to the late weather report. Three months later he got a call from Channel 12, “the legendary news channel in Montgomery that covered all the civil rights… It was ‘The Station,’” he said. His admiration for that station went back years; when he was a boy in Greenville, Spann used to watch Ralph Williams on Channel 12, and remembered how Williams would draw on the maps with something that looked like a bottle of Elmer’s Glue. He’s pretty sure Williams sold swimming pools for a living and remembered that he didn’t know much about weather, but still considers him to be an icon and one of his biggest influences.
After a brief stint doing the weekend sports report, which he says went “horribly,” Spann moved over the weather desk. He hasn’t filled out a resume or applied for a job since. “They’ve just come to me. I don’t even know how a resume would look. I’m like Forrest Gump or something,” Spann said. “If I had a million goes at it, I don’t think my life would turn out this way again.”
So in 1979, at the age of 23, with no formal training in meteorology, Spann began his career as a full-time weatherman. It was not until 1992 that Spann got his certificate in meteorology from Mississippi State. “Not a formal degree,” he said. “No time to be on campus for that.” He challenged anyone who doubts his knowledge and qualifications to best him in a head-to-head matchup on the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist exam.
He is, to absolutely no one’s surprise, remarkably informed about the weather.
Dave Baird’s hair
“You see kids, the problem is Dave [Baird] always buys the cheap wig glue,” Spann said to a few kids who were visiting the studio with their father, seconds before Baird was about to go on air. “See how his toupee is sliding off? ‘Dave, you better straighten that thing out.’”
Baird doesn’t really wear a toupee, but it’s a joke they’ve recycled for years when kids are in the studio. “That one never gets old,” Spann said.
“It never gets any better either,” Baird shot back, just as the red light in the studio came on and they were live.
Spann wore some clunky white Adidas tennis shoes, ill-fitting dress pants held in place by this trademark suspenders, and a white dress shirt with the sleeves unrolled and buttoned at the cuff (a good sign for Alabamians) as he paced around the ABC 33/40 studio between commercial breaks during a 5 p.m. broadcast on an unseasonably warm February evening. He’s been working there since 1996.
Spann loathes shopping, which is the main reason he donned suspenders in the late 1990’s after he lost some weight and needed a way to hold up his now baggy pants. The accidental branding move stuck with viewers and, given his mastery of self-promotion, he decided to own it. Not a birthday or holiday goes by where he doesn’t get a pair as a gift. Students he met during a recent visit to an elementary school opted to gift him a pair of suspenders rather than bake him a cake in his likeness. The cake thing happens at most school visits; it’s a weird homage-paying ritual. Spann isn’t sure how that got started or why kids love watching him eat his own face so much.
Love him or hate him, Spann genuinely embodies the mythos of the weatherman — a familiar presence whose televised persona is vigilant, kind, and possesses a sharp wit. A large number of Alabamians turn to him in moments of crisis. He builds relationships with them during the monotonous stretches of mild weather, “so when it does get bad, they know who to come to,” Spann said, acknowledging the fact that the internet has the ability to “bring the worst out in some people.” He despises trolls while at the same time relishing the opportunity to spar with them in front of his loyal band of followers.
“It’s not me. These people hate everything,” Spann said, now seated behind his desk in the “mop closet.” It was a time period between evening broadcasts when he responded to some comments on his laptop. “They hate you, they hate places, they hate themselves. Look at the comment section of AL.com. It is a cesspool of the lowest echelon of humanity. These are the people that come after me with a passion. So you know if you’re going to have a high-profile weather event, they’re coming. It’s a very odd combination of grace and sass needed in order to survive in my business. It’s a very fine line but you have to let those haters know if you’re going to dish it out, you gotta take it.”
A lot of people get riled up when Spann’s face comes on the TV during their favorite shows, and they let him know about it. He’s often labelled as an “egotist” who just enjoys seeing himself on TV. This couldn’t be further from the truth, he said, pointing out that he’s certainly not the first weatherman to cut into programming. He’s not exactly apologetic about it; he feels completely justified.
On Christmas day 2015, a tornado cut through Midfield and southwest Birmingham and Spann had to interrupt the an NBA game where the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing the Golden State Warriors, a preview for that year’s championship series.
“There’s no telling how many people could’ve been killed if we hadn’t cut in,” Spann said. “The first email I got said, ‘You should’ve been aborted by a coat hanger.’ Welcome to my world. This was Christmas Day. It’s brutal. What’s wrong with these people?… We saved lives that day.”
Climate: A Dirty Word
Even for those who may not wish such ugly things upon the weatherman, being a public figure means having to withstand criticisms from viewers. A point that is often brought by Spann’s critics is his stance on climate change, an issue he believes has become so political that he doesn’t like to discuss it anymore. While he doesn’t deny the climate is changing — “no one in their right mind can say that,” he said — he doesn’t think the “science is settled” on man’s involvement.
Birmingham resident Lee Waites said he stopped watching Spann after hearing his thoughts on climate change several years ago. “He’s as wrong as often as the rest of them,” Waites said downplaying the role of the TV meteorologist in an era of accessible raw weather data. “James Spann strikes me as a bit self-important and enamored with his own persona as a local celebrity. Of course, he kind of lost me back when he was so vocal in his assertions that man has no proven effect on climate change, which has been proven, regardless of his denials, by real scientists.” Although Waites added, “He seems like a nice enough guy. I would probably drink a beer with him.”
Spann lumps climate change in with politics, meaning he recoils at the thought of discussing it in public. “It doesn’t matter what you say, people are going to hate you,” Spann said. “I was taught to question everything, but now, you can’t do that. All of a sudden you’re a denier. If you deny the climate is changing, you’re a lunatic. The debate now is, does mankind play a role, and if so to what extent?” He considers himself to be a scientist, and adds, “this is what the scientific community needs to figure out.”
(Spann, by the way, is not the only weather forecaster who shies away from discussing man’s involvement in climate change; interview requests for this piece were declined by climatologists at The University of Alabama at Huntsville, MIT, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the National Weather Service.)
Several years ago Spann found himself bickering about the subject with the famous Bill Nye, “the Science Guy,” on Twitter. Spann tweeted: “Somebody needs to tell this stooge the difference between weather and climate,” in response to Nye’s assertion that hurricane severity is linked to climate change.
“He’s an engineer. He doesn’t understand how the atmosphere works… He’s a showman. I mean, I guess we’re all showmen to some degree, but he said some horrible things that just aren’t true,” Spann said about the dust-up. “He’s a smart guy, but he doesn’t have a strong grasp on how the atmosphere works.”
Keeping in that vein, Spann discussed how he doesn’t believe that being a Christian — he is a devout Baptist — is at odds with science. He doesn’t consider himself to be “religious” because he approaches Christianity as a relationship. “I could care less about some coffee shop’s red cups; it is my job to take care of widows, orphans, and people in need,” Spann wrote in an op-ed for 33/40, in which he laid out his thoughts on the subject. “Many progressives believe Christians are ‘anti-science’ and all are ‘deniers’ on the climate issue. Then it leads down the path of topics and words like ‘the earth is 4,000 years old [or] creationism and evolution, [or that] anyone that holds the belief that Jesus Christ is God’s son and died for the sins of man should not be allowed to take part in the climate debate because of their ignorance and inability to think.”
He didn’t discuss the particulars of his spirituality with a journalist beyond the fact that he and his wife, Karen — whom he lovingly described as a “lifelong weather widow” because of the demands of his job keep him away from home for long stretches — are members at Double Oak Community Church.
“I am a skeptic,” Spann said firmly. “Is CO2 a greenhouse gas? Yes. Is there some anthropogenic element to climate change? Yes. There almost has to be. But the question is still, what is it? And I’m yet to see any empirical evidence that there is any increase in extreme weather events globally.” He believes the increasing trend toward record breaking temperatures worldwide — 2016 was earth’s warmest year on record, according to NASA — is based on the fact that the earth is in a “warm AMO (Atlantic multidecadal oscillation) phase.” He doesn’t deny the planet is warming but believes that the “fact data sets are coming out of urban heat islands,” in cities around the globe, and therefore the data is skewed and in 20 years the planet could pivot to a cool AMO.
“Cities generate heat islands in most cases,” he said. “The data sets are all coming from these urban areas in most cases. What I believe you need to look at is tropospheric satellite data. But the problem with that is we don’t have those numbers prior to 1975,” Spann continued. “You’re just throwing out information that we just don’t know.”
He is quick to add there is no reason to be emitting CO2 unnecessarily and that “too much of a good thing can go bad quick” likening it to drinking so much water that you die. Even so, CO2, in Spann’s eyes, “has been demonized,” despite being the “lifeblood of the planet.” He said he absolutely believes in “reasonable regulation on CO2 emissions.”
Of course, not all of Spann’s critics put much stock in his skepticism about man’s involvement in climate change. Many of them still cherish his ability to not only relay information about dangerous storms in a calm, informed manner, but also the fact that he genuinely cares about the well being of strangers who are looking to him for comfort.
Hoover native Cheyenne Taylor recalled how Spann came to visit her school as a child. She was terrified of storms.
“Rain by itself made me so afraid I had near-panic attacks,” Taylor said. “But as cheesy as it sounds, watching James Spann’s reports helped me deal with it. While at first I registered his presence as a sign that terrifying weather was headed straight for us, eventually listening to him became really comforting. My parents noticed that I’d chill when I heard him telling everyone what to do, and then he became our de-facto weather guru of sorts. It was the only way to calm me down.”
As an adult, Taylor said it has been hard to reconcile with Spann’s skepticism, which has caused her a to have a “significant deal of cognitive dissonance,” because she views his position as being equivalent to a “climate change denier.” Instead, she said, he could use his platform to open a dialogue with viewers, over whom he has a great deal of influence in matters pertaining to weather/climate. (Spann doesn’t think it is his job to do so and quickly refers people to climatologists for more information.)
Still, when the weather takes a turn, Taylor “immediately [turns] to 33/40 to see what level of distress Spann’s suspenders are in.” And, despite their different opinions on man’s involvement in climate change, she trusts him “more than any public figure I’ve ever known of.”
Air raid sirens and dorky helmets
Before the car ride that began this story, Spann had a few encounters that tell much about who he is. First there was a cat — a black cat that was sitting in front of Spann’s car as he approached it in the studio parking lot. The cat may have known that the weatherman had a big bag of Meow Mix in the backseat of his car (a backseat he kept calling “filthier than the Turkey Creek Landfill” although it was was relatively clean by most standards). “This guy is staring into my soul right now,” Spann said, gazing back at the cat while he prepared for his morning spot on the Rick and Bubba Show. He feeds about six stray cats who live outside the station and occasionally has to chase off racoons.
On this particular morning, Bubba’s son, Hunter Bussey, was tagging along with the weatherman. His dad, who is a good friend of Spann’s, had pulled some strings for Hunter, a polite, stocky young man who wants to go into “sports management,” to skip school (for a class credit, apparently) and learn what he could on a day trip with the weatherman.
It was a strange confluence of local celebrity when Spann phoned into the radio station to do the morning weather while Bubba talked to his son through the car radio. The three had a conversation live on air about CrossFit regiments, stage make-up, and Hunter’s athletic ability for several minutes. Afterward, during the car ride, Hunter shifted the conversation to Spann, who is nothing if not gracious when it comes to accommodating doting fans and people who revere him with the same star-struck manner typically reserved for Hollywood types. Although, he said, he’s still not sure why some people treat him that way or want to take pictures with him.
Hunter wanted to know how people die in tornadoes. Spann explained there is a lack of understanding about human behavior. He harkens back to April 27, 2011. “I think our biggest weakness was not understanding social sciences and how people act,” he said. “A big part is the siren mentality. I hate them. They’re killing people. For whatever reason, people in Alabama think you’re supposed to hear some air raid siren from World War I before getting to cover.” And the public, for the most part, is woefully inept when it comes to locating their house on a map when looking over data themselves, he said.
He told Hunter that people are usually killed in a tornado when they are lofted into the air and their heads are split open with shrapnel. Helmets are a must, he said, no matter how dorky it looks. Hunter nodded.
According to his radar, the weather was starting to get rough in southern Louisiana and Spann considered turning the car around to get back to the station. His life follows the weather, but the father of two grown boys wouldn’t have it any other way, despite the strain on family time. He decided to push onward to Oneonta.
“These are my people,” he said some time later, as he got out of the car and walked toward the school. “I don’t do well with high schoolers, but young kids, man, they just get me.” He was greeted by a giddy receptionist who directed him toward the auditorium. As the school resource officer opened the door for Spann, a hundred little heads snapped to attention and a hush fell over the otherwise jabbering crowd of second graders. A small voice rang out, “Suspender dude!”
Spann chuckled and flashed a big grin as he turned around and said, “This is what it’s all about, gentlemen. This is what I live for.” The showman strutted out on stage to thunderous applause from two hundred tiny hands.