When longtime WAFB-TV weathercaster Diane Deaton first began in the news business, the role of weather reporter hadn't really been defined yet.

"They just looked for somebody who looked all right on TV and who could kind of speak and who could fill three minutes," said Deaton, who began her career in Missouri.

"It wasn't the critical, go-to-the-top-of-the show it is now," she said. "So much is dependent on the weather — and weather changes so quickly."

Deaton announced on Tuesday that, after 37 years at Channel 9, she will give her final weather report on Dec. 18.

Deaton grew up in a small town north of Kansas City, Missouri and first entered the weather reporting field at a small station there: She was working part-time in the accounting department, when the news director asked her to host a noontime community events segment.

"I was petrified," Deaton said. "But in those moments, you do the best you can and learn as you go."

From there, she became the weather reporter for the station's evening weather broadcast. Her sources for her reports were The Associated Press and the National Weather Service and she quickly learned something about weather reporting.

"News stories are scripted," she said. "Weather is not scripted. It's live! It's ad-lib."

It's something she's come to love over her career, said Deaton, who moved to Baton Rouge in 1983 to be the weekend weather person at WAFB, later going to the morning weather show there. 

She said that she's proud to work with station meteorologists Jay Grymes, Steve Caparotta and Jeff Morrow.

"They are trained in many things that I don't have the background in," Deaton said. "They helped me all through the years."

"Our team is really there for each other," she said. 

Deaton made her retirement announcement Tuesday during the "9News This Morning's Parting Shots" segment.

Deaton, who's 68, said she plans to stay in Baton Rouge.

She won't miss getting up at about 2:30 a.m. on weekdays to be ready for the 4:30 morning show, she said.

But it might take her awhile to get used to having more free time, she said.

"I'm not used to relaxing," Deaton said. 

"Even though retiring is a little scary, because it's the unknown, I have a strong faith and I know I can trust God to get me through it," she said.

She said she expects, though, that people may continue to come up to her as they recognize her and ask her about the weather. It's been happening for years. 

"You can see that little light come on in their eyes, then the hesitation about what to say and then it comes to them: the weather," Deaton said.

"Hey, Miss D, I enjoy watching your show," they'll say. "Is there going to be rain today?"

Email Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com.