Brian’s Media Journey
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Brian went into television news, cutting his teeth managing the newsroom of an ABC-TV affiliate in Columbia, Missouri. A few years later scored a job in Reno, Nevada (KOLO-TV), where he wore several hats including a producing and hosting a segment on the late newscast known as, Night Scene. In these nightly reports Sussman covered the local entertainment acts currently playing in “The Biggest Little City in the World,” including comedians, musicians, and even the Reverend Billy Graham.
It was an interview that, many years later, would change his life.
An Interview with Billy Graham
“Billy Graham was in town for three nights of crusades at the Convention Center,” Sussman recalls. “His visit to Reno was making all the headlines, so I convinced our boss that we should cover it as a part of Night Scene.”
Brian contacted Reverend Graham’s media team and an interview was set up; it was scheduled to last 15-minutes on Wednesday, the day before Graham’s first crusade.
“Billy had done a press conference earlier in the day, and was concluding a handful of one-on-one interviews when my cameraman and I arrived. We were his last interview of the day. As our camera guy was setting up Graham asked me about myself. He became very intrigued when I told him I was a follower of Jesus—and was Jewish.”
Sussman was raised in a non-religious family, but the culture growing up was distinctly Jewish. After witnessing a series of deadly tragedies during his middle school years he became determined to know God. His introduction occurred in college.
“I told Reverend Graham how a friend (now my wife) challenged me to read the New Testament during my first year at Missouri. The make-or-break moment for me was in John 14:6, where Jesus says, ‘I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’ After contemplating that line, I had to decide whether Jesus was a liar, a lunatic—or the Messiah. I obviously chose the latter. Billy Graham and I ended up spending almost an hour together.”
Brian’s interview with Graham, combined with highlights from the Crusade, made up both the Thursday and Friday night editions of Night Scene. A week later Sussman received a letter in the mail.
“It was from Billy Graham,” Brian says, still pleasantly surprised even all these years later. “He mentioned he didn’t have a chance to watch the interview on television, but some members of his staff did and they really like what they saw. He thanked me for the opportunity to be interviewed and then said something that only more recently changed my life.
“In 2016 I was fishing through a box of personal memorabilia and came across that letter. Billy said it was “terrific” that the Lord had given me such a “great opportunity to witness for Him” in the secular media. He also referred to me as a fellow “co-laborer in the Gospel.” That statement by Billy Graham—one of the greatest evangelists of all-time—calling me a co-laborer, hit me especially hard.”
Brian, has always been active and outspoken regarding his faith, leading Bible studies and prayer groups both in churches, Messianic synagogues, and even in the workplace. But Graham’s letter motivated him.
“All these years later, long after leaving Reno and doing a couple decades of TV and radio in San Francisco, I looked at that letter and felt I needed to live up to the words of Reverend Graham. I made the decision to revamp my website and dedicate its content to what I see as the Bible’s core message: everyone needs another chance to know and follow the One who says, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me.’”
For nearly three decades Brian has been a top media personality in the San Francisco Bay Area. For many of those years he was the market’s top television meteorologist and recognized by his peers as one of the most accurate and entertaining in the business. His accolades include nearly two dozen state and regional awards for “Best Weathercast” from the Associated Press and Radio-TV News Directors Association, a handful of Emmys, and an award of merit from the National Education Association for his enlightening science reporting. During the 1990s Brian served as the fill-in weatherman on the nationally broadcast CBS Morning Show with Harry Smith.
Brian’s Kids – Helping with Adoption of Foster Kids
Sussman has also been recognized by the State of California for assisting in the adoption of foster children. Through his organization, Brian’s Kids, Sussman utilized the airwaves of KPIX-TV in San Francisco to highlight children waiting for adoptive families. Between 1989 and 2001, four hundred foster children were placed into permanent families thanks to Brian’s Kids. Even Sussman’s own family (left) expanded via adoption during those special years.