Legendary New Orleans television meteorologist Margaret Orr announces her retirement

After more than four decades at WDSU-TV, chief meteorologist Margaret Orr plans to retire at the end of March, the station announced Monday.

Orr, 70, had hinted at her impending retirement last year. In an interview in September, she said she wanted more time to read more, paint more, garden more.

She wants more quality time with her three young grandchildren and her 14-year-old rescue border collie, Bleu.

“With this kind of job, I don’t have a lot of time,” she said last September. “We have ice, extreme heat, hurricanes and now tornadoes – two in 2022 and one in 2017. That did not used to happen.”

All in all, she’s enjoyed a great run of more than 40 years of forecasting.

“What a remarkable ride. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be in my hometown. A lot of people will move around to make more money. Why? There is something to being with your people.”

Orr’s path to chief was not direct.

Orr smiles at the adoring crowd while serving as the Honorary Muse for the Krewe of Muses parade in New Orleans earlier this year.
Orr smiles at the adoring crowd while serving as the Honorary Muse for the Krewe of Muses parade in New Orleans earlier this year.

After graduating from the all-girls Louise S. McGehee School in 1971, she enrolled at LSU. She spent a summer working at TV and radio stations in Waco, Texas, and loved it. An English major, she added classes on broadcast journalism and meteorology to her schedule.

English degree in hand, she followed a boyfriend to Charleston, South Carolina, and became a radio station general manager’s secretary. She took a 9-to-5 job as a receptionist at a Charleston TV station on the condition that she could also be a news intern from 5 to 11 p.m.

She started filing stories and got her foot in the door of the broadcast news business. After three years in South Carolina, she landed back in Louisiana as a general assignment reporter at WBRZ in Baton Rouge who also filled in on weather.

Eleven months later, in 1979, WDSU hired her for the same role: reporter who could also do the weather. She co-hosted WDSU’s morning show, “The Breakfast Edition,” arriving at an empty station at 3 a.m. and turning on the lights. She co-hosted “The World’s Fair Show,” broadcast daily from the grounds of the World’s Fair.

Orr poses at her home in New Orleans.
Orr poses at her home in New Orleans.

She did weather for the noon and 5 o’clock newscasts. When WDSU took her off the evening news, she added weekend shifts. Working seven days a week while raising two daughters and a son with her husband, Bill, was rough. But being on-air every day was, she says, “the smartest thing I ever did, because I became so well-known.”

Along the way she took remote classes from Mississippi State University to earn a meteorology certification. In 2008, WDSU promoted her to chief meteorologist following Dan Milham’s retirement.

She’s held the post ever since, bearing all the responsibility that comes with it.

Monday’s announcement via social media made her retirement official.