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Q&A with AEP Ohio’s Retiring Storm Guru, Dave Callahan

by on June 23, 2022

In his youth, Dave Callahan saw a future as a professional singer. At age 16 he joined a choir that toured Europe and later studied vocal music education at Heidelberg University.

With careers in the arts limited, Callahan began considering other jobs to help pay the bills. He did electrical work during the summer months and, after a stint as a full-time electrician, he started his career as a line mechanic-D at the Canton South Service Center in 1981.

Forty years later, Callahan is retiring from AEP Ohio. He spent about 20 years as a dispatcher (in Canton) and a dispatching trainer (in Columbus) before being named mutual assistance coordinator in 2004. That experience helped lay the groundwork for his current job as emergency preparedness manager, which he started in 2016.

We talked with Callahan about his career and his plans after he leaves July 6.

What’s your best memory from your time with AEP Ohio?

Doing mutual assistance I got to go to a lot of neat places and meet people from all across the United States. I was able to see and learn from utilities outside AEP. Other than that I will remember all the people I have worked with over the years.

You’ve become a professional storm watcher. Any tips for the amateurs out there?

It’s all about the history and understanding what’s happened before. It’s getting the feel for how weather affects each location across Ohio. I’m studying the weather daily – you have to dig in a little bit and watch the wind charts. In my work I was able to meet with meteorologists and that helped me a lot. Here’s what you need to know: Wind drives our weather.

When a storm hit you were on 24/7. How are you going to spend that time during the next big storm?

When a storm hits I’m going to sit back and watch it and not worry about it. I’m looking forward to not being on the phone so much. My daughter likes to say that it wouldn’t be a holiday unless Dad is on a conference call.

You blossomed into a media star during your time here. What’s the secret to your on-camera gravitas?

Number one, I was knowledgeable about the questions reporters asked me. I knew what I was talking about, I knew the plan. That made it easier. Also, my past music history of performing in front of crowd, of being on stage in front of a thousand people, that’s no big deal to me.

Oh and the fact that I didn’t get a choice helped, too! I was in Grove City after the tornado hit and no one was there to do interviews so they put in front of the camera. The rest is history.

OK, so you’re a good singer – what’s your karaoke go-to?

I don’t know, maybe “Hooked on a Feeling”? Musically I’m probably more inclined to classical stuff, like church hymns or an Italian aria. My wife and I are also into Irish trad music.

Any tips for AEP Ohio’s younger workforce?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to someone at the highest or lowest level of the company – treat everyone the same. You may have your way to do something but that’s not the only way to do it. Everyone works differently. Swallow your pride a little bit and go with the flow.

What are you most looking forward to in your retirement?

I’m looking forward to spending more time with family and my grandkids. My wife and I are moving into our family’s 44-acre family farm in Navarre right next to my daughter and there’s a lot of work to be done on that house. I’ll also do some woodworking, and we have some little trips planned to see the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. So I’ll stay busy.

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