His knee went out on live TV, but FOX 9’s Keith Marler carried on like a weather warrior

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It was early — very early — on a Monday in early January and Keith Marler needed to update the FOX 9 Morning News viewers about the snow.

He was moving as fast as he could, which wasn’t fast — his left knee had started acting up over the holidays and his right knee had begun to feel off, too. Then, as the meteorologist was walking toward the weather map’s green screen at 6:19 a.m. on Jan. 8, something happened.

“My right knee went, ‘Pop!’” Marler recalled.

The 52-year-old meteorologist couldn’t move, but he did what he always does: He kept calm on live television and carried on with a chuckle, leaning into the frame as much as he could while pointing at the map and talking about the weather — and his knee. Almost a month later, he’s still carrying on in February as he awaits surgery, issuing his weather reports while seated in the station’s weather center.

Marler, an affable fixture on the local morning news for more than two decades, has gotten into the habit of carrying on with aplomb over the years through a broken foot, an elbow repair, neurological complications from vertigo and, now, coping with the help of crutches.

Just don’t feel sorry for him, please.

“You trudge forward, it’s not the end of the world,” Marler said. “It’s just knee surgery.”

When it happened

If you’re barely awake, sipping your coffee, the morning crew on TV news programs can make for pleasant companionship as they talk news, weather, traffic and fun — with a bit of their own lives filled in around the edges.

At 6:19 a.m. on that Monday in January, Marler and anchor Tom Butler were joking briefly about the weekend and football — and how Butler’s favored teams were done for the season — before Marler focused on the weather.

But why could we only see his arm, pointing?

Marler gave a little chuckle, interrupting his forecast to lean into the frame.

“My knee just popped,” he said, “so I’m just kinda parked over here, I’m just going to lean in just a little bit here, I apologize, that’s as far as I’m walking right now, thank you.”

After Keith Marler’s knee went out on live television, he was frozen in place — but kept going. (Screen grab courtesy FOX 9)

He then continued talking about the weather, but it was an abbreviated forecast.

“I cut it off short because it was not comfortable,” Marler said of the pain, which involved an issue with his knee’s meniscus and fluid leaking internally.

Off air, his colleagues came to his aid.

Greg Kellogg, a photojournalist, sprang into action.

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“He knew I was in trouble,” Marler said. “He got me my desk chair and wheeled me to the weather center, where I spent the rest of the day until I was off the air.”

Since he was unable to drive, Marler’s wife, Susan Marler, and their 19-year-old daughter, Gracie Marler, headed to the Eden Prairie station to pick him up.

It was quite a scene when they pulled up.

“They rolled him out in an office chair,” Susan recalled.

By afternoon, the meteorologist was in the office of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ryan Fader.

The diagnosis, among others: Marler would not be dancing for awhile during the morning team’s Friday on-air dance parties.

(He still tries though — with crutches.)

‘Maybe you should be in the injury tent’

FOX 9 meteorologist Keith Marler at the weather desk in the KMSP-TV studios in Eden Prairie on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Marler is a native of Arkansas, but his reaction about his knee trouble is very Minnesotan.

No fuss, please!

“I didn’t know it right away,” recalled Kelly Huffman, FOX 9’s news director, of the drama.

When Huffman did learn about the crisis, Marler definitely didn’t want a fuss.

“He said, ‘It happened, I’m OK, I can still do the weather,’” Huffman remembered.

Since FOX 9 (KMSP-TV) often airs Minnesota Vikings games, Huffman used a football analogy when considering the situation.

“I said, ‘Keith, maybe you should be in the injury tent right now,’” Huffman said.

Just like football, support from the viewer-fans has been incoming.

“Keith has been getting a lot of love, a lot of, ‘We hope you get better soon,’” Huffman said. “I’m relieved not to see comments like, ‘Why are you making him work, you ogres.’”

We didn’t even think of that.

“I did!” Huffman said with a laugh.

(Fortunately, Marler shares the morning weather duties with fellow meteorologist Cody Matz.)

Marler appreciates the support of everyone at FOX 9.

“There’s a reason I’ve worked here for 20-plus years,” Marler said. “I work at a nice place.”

Team Marler

FOX 9 meteorologist Keith Marler rehearses a weather segment at the KMSP-TV studios in Eden Prairie on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Marler, who injured both of his knees recently, is scheduled to have surgery in mid-February. Meanwhile, he’s been carrying on as the morning meteorologist as best he can. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Even warriors sometimes need to take sick days, though.

Wednesday was one of those days for Marler.

“Usually, once I shave and put on a tie, I’m going to work no matter what,” Marler said from his home in Plymouth. “I had almost put on my tie and thought, ‘Nope …’”

The pain was a factor, he said, and he had medical appointments to power through later in the day.

Fortunately, he’s not going through this alone; a member of “Team Marler” was by his side Wednesday — as usual.

“I’m Keith’s backup, his partner,” said wife Susan.

“More partner than backup,” Keith added.

Susan, a teacher, actually did serve as a backup of sorts for Keith and FOX 9 after he tentatively returned to live television — from his home studio — after the vertigo a few years ago. Would he be able to power through verbally like before? They weren’t sure, so …

“Susan sat on the floor next to the power strip, doing school work,” Keith recalled. “She was ready to pull the plug, if necessary.”

Fortunately, he powered up fine and there was no need to power down by pulling any plugs.

Still, the support of a team is nice (Team Marler also includes Gracie, a college student, as well as their 16-year-old son, Jack, a junior in high school).

“We just stick together,” Susan said. “It seems cliche, but no matter what happens, the four of us stick together to keep going.”

“What else are you going to do?” Keith said.

199 days from now …

Almost a month after that knee pop, Marler is hobbling around with crutches and preparing for a pretty intense surgery (he describes it as a “high tibial osteotomy”) at the end of February on his right knee (his left knee is OK for now).

It’s not clear exactly how long he’ll be away after surgery, but he might work remotely again for awhile before heading back to the studio on a daily basis.

Just know that you’ll likely spot him walking without crutches during live segments later this year.

“I should be walking fine by the time we’re at the Minnesota State Fair,” Marler said. “Worst case, it’s just more golf cart time.”

Or, if he had to write his personal forecast:

“The spring looks a little unsettled but we’ve got our knee-storm plan in place,” Marler predicted. “By summer, we should be riding high with sunny skies and being all gorgeous again, thanks to our little team.”

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