Bob Knapp was WRAL-TV’s first weathercaster, joining the staff on December 13, 1956. That was two days before the station signed on the air.
Knapp came to WRAL from Richmond, where he got early experience in radio and television. Knapp not only handled weather, he also reported and anchored sports and filled in for Ray Reeve when necessary.
Knapp was best known for the “Atlantic Weatherman” segments where he would deliver the forecast wearing the full uniform of a service station attendant. Atlantic Oil Company sponsored weathercasts at more than 40 television stations along the east coast in the late 1950s and early 60s. WRAL-TV adopted the “Atlantic style” and Knapp would appear each night wearing a tan-colored service station attendant’s uniform, bow tie and black-visored cap.
The WRAL weather background included an Atlantic logo on the left and North Carolina regional map on the right. Each night it would be rolled into the studio on wheels and positioned in front of the single camera that was used for the production. Knapp stored his Atlantic caps on a shelf above the map—just out of camera range and out of sight of viewers.
Bob Knapp also covered sports most days and he became known as an “active” reporter, taking part in individual competitions and showing particular skill at golf. In 1957 Bob won the Press-Radio-TV division of the Atlantic Coast College football roundup golf tournament, shooting a 77 over the Finley golf course in Chapel Hill. He repeated the feat the next year with an even par 72, which garnered him the A.E. Finley Trophy for overall low score.
Bob Knapp left WRAL-TV in 1965, but came back to the station for another year in 1967. He was the first of three WRAL-TV chief weather anchors named Bob; Knapp would be followed by Bob Caudle and later by the biggest name in weather—Bob DeBardelaben.