Persona is one the biggest sign companies in the United States with a long list of satisfied corporate clients. But we also are proud to be a Watertown company, helping local businesses, schools and churches put their best foot forward with incredible signs that are designed and manufactured right here by your friends and neighbors.
So it’s no surprise that when KXLG Radio (99.1 FM) decided five years ago to pay homage to Watertown’s past by recreating a weather ball like the one that loomed over the intersection of Highways 212 and 81 decades ago, they came to us.
“Persona was the first company I called,” said Bob Faehn, general manager of KXLG. “I realized we were asking for something that was very unique, but Persona is a national company, and I figured if they couldn’t do it, they could at least point me in the right direction.”
No pointing was necessary. Even though it was an unusual project – after all, Watertown had not had a weather ball for many years – Persona’s team of designers and engineers embraced challenge. They had to start from scratch, doing a project unlike any they had ever done.
“A lot of the people who originally worked on KXLG’s weather ball, me included, remembered the original Magic Mile weather ball,” said Persona’s Les Rossman, assistant manager of technical sales. "Everybody was really excited to work on it. I remember the first meetings we had about it, there would be six, seven people at the table.”
In addition to the inherent challenges of producing a one-of-a-kind structure, the Persona team also was working under tight deadlines. KXLG wanted to unveil the new weather ball during its grand opening that had already been scheduled.
The four-foot diameter spherical structure that is perched 70 feet in the air was designed and built using tubular aluminum which holds high-tech LED “pucks” in place (at right). The electronics were added and the ball was delivered and installed the day before KXLG’s grand opening at its new home in May 2014. The ball has been telling Watertown residents and travelers what to expect from Mother Nature ever since. Different colors are displayed for expected weather conditions.
“When we were building our building, I got it into my head that I wanted something to be, for lack of a better term, ‘iconic,’” Faehn said. “Since our target audience was pretty much the baby boomers, I figured they all remembered the original weather ball. It wasn’t so much that we wanted to attract attention to the building, but we wanted something that KXLG would be known for.”
KXLG enlisted Reliabank as a weather ball sponsor, and now it’s known as the KXLG-Reliabank Weather Ball. Faehn couldn’t be happier with it.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’m traveling around the area and when people hear the name KXLG, they always say, ‘That’s the station with the weather ball, right?’
“A funny thing, when we decided to have a weather ball, we really thought it would be the baby boomers who would appreciate it most, but it seems like little kids get the biggest kick out of it. An area school even held contest for its students, and the student who won the contest got to push the button to change the color.”
Faehn said he’s looking forward to having the iconic weather ball for many years to come. KXLG is located on Jensen Avenue just blocks east of where the first weather ball was located. The new weather ball is visible to everyone in that part of Watertown, including travelers on U.S. Highway 212.
“I couldn’t be happier with the job Persona did,” he said. “Everybody there was great to work with. I feel like we gave them a challenging project, and they did a great job!”