|After eight years as A-Channels on-the-spot meteorologist, Darr Maqbool has turned in his microphone and satellite maps and is moving on.
Following Toronto-based CHUM Televisions purchase of the Calgary station he helped popularize, Maqbools contract wasnt renewed, but hes surprisingly cool about his new-found unemployment.
"Ive always said, If I get tired of you, or you get tired of me, lets just shake hands and walk away. Thats exactly how it went down," says Maqbool. "I got up and shook (my employers) hand and said, Thank you very much for a great run.
"Life goes on. I hang my shingle. If some other media wants me, we can talk about that," he says.
Being one of the citys most identifiable faces doesnt faze the laid-back local icon. Consistently appearing in Fast Forwards Best of Calgary Readers Survey hes won both Best- and Worst-dressed Calgarian and Favourite Local TV Personality is a source of amusement for the 55-year-old with the contagious laugh.
"Are you freakin blind?" he quips, referring to winning the Sexiest Man category in 2002.
Relaxing in the lush backyard jungle of his Edgemont home, clad in a brightly coloured shirt, sandals and khakis, hes charming and affable as he sips on a Kokanee. His wife of 35 years, Lynn, looks on with amusement as he chats about his time as an on-air personality.
"It doesnt bother me one bit whether its the best of or the worst of. I think its fun. Im not going to commit hara-kiri after dropping from first to second," he says, referring to colleague Dave Kelly taking home the Sexiest Man citation in 2004. "We joke about it, Kelly and I."
Maqbool has amassed plenty of anecdotes in his time as A-Channels roving weather expert. One of his favourites involves fishing in the Bow River when an unexpected guest swam into the segment.
"I looked down and it was a beaver. I jumped and said, What the ?" His racy on-air remark "I've never been rubbed by a beaver in the Bow before" caused a fuss. "The producer went nuts. The next morning, CJAY 92 called up and said, I heard you got bit by a beaver? and I said, No, it was just a rub
" He pauses for effect. "But it was warm, it was wet and it was furry."
Shooting on location has its share of risks, including unexpected nudity and random terms of endearment flung at him by passersby, and hes characteristically cool about it all.
"I love you is better than I hate your guts," he says, adding some overzealous bystanders have sometimes created awkward moments: "People dropping their pants and girls doing the Red Mile thing," he says with a chuckle. "Interesting."
Prior to his A-Channel stint, Maqbool practised meteorology across Canada, from Toronto to Churchill, Manitoba. His son was born on the Alaska Highway near the Yukon border. Apart from his television career, he runs a consulting business he started in 1995, analyzing everything from wind energy research to pollution dispersion.
Maqbools also an avid music fan and lists Buckwheat Zydeco and Buddy Guy as favourites. A 1967 Porsche is midway through restoration in his garage. When time permits, he throws dinner parties for friends. Hes also active with the Kids Cancer Foundation, and recently hosted a fundraiser at the Chicago Chophouse, raising close to $5,000.
"Ive got so many passions and sometimes they are time-consuming," he says.
One of those passions is travel. Maqbool just returned from a trip to Africa, the Czech Republic and England. Although hes grateful to be back on Canadian soil he says the tension in London and the rioting in Nairobi were unsettling he loves to go abroad and has been on every continent except Central America. "Im a nomad at heart," he says.