• ducttape

    How to Make Sticky Weathercasts

    There are tons of places to get weather forecasts these days. Many just require a free app and a zip code. For broadcast meteorologists it has gotten harder than ever to attract an audience and keep them coming back. It’s not only important to create interesting, accurate content; you need to make the message meaningful and memorable.

    made to stickChip and Dan Heath wrote a great book a few years back called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Thrive. In it, they discuss the elements that make ideas and information more likely to take hold. After all, what’s the point of an accurate forecast if your viewers either tune out, or don’t remember what you said? It’s not just what we say, but how we say it that gives our content meaning. Continue reading

  • swedish_chef

    Which Kitchen Utensils Are On Your Weather Team?

    A kitchen is full of useful tools, each with a purpose. When a kitchen has all the right mix of tools, you can make really good food. The same goes for weather teams. It’s not just about being the best broadcast meteorologist. You’ll find that you are at your best when you are surrounded by a team of other mets who all excel at something a little different.

    It’s tough to find that chemistry when weather teams keep changing. Mets will sign on for two or three years and be on to the next bigger market. I’ve been fortunate to have very little turnover at my station. Four of us have been there now for fifteen years or longer. Our fifth met is going into his third year, and I’ve got a feeling he plans to stick around. In that time we’ve been able to play to each of our own strengths. It not only makes us better as a team, but also makes us a lot happier allowing us to do what we genuinely like to do. It’s nice to be on a team with high morale and zero drama.

    Here are the tools in our kitchen. See if any sound familiar to you or your team: Continue reading

  • This is our video classroom at Lyndon. We do two semesters here of instruction and practice and two semesters of live half-hour newscasts on News 7.

    Connecting Through the Screen – Charisma Development for Broadcast Meteorologists

    As the number of sources of weather data continue to increase, from mobile apps to secondary channels, what drives people to your content? What motivates a viewer to watch one news broadcast over another? While content is key, who we are and how we present weather information can often make a big difference. It’s a broadcast meteorologist’s charisma, likability or personal character that makes us each unique, and allows us to connect to our viewers on a personal, more emotional level.

    I think one of the more interesting challenges I’ve found in teaching broadcast meteorology at Lyndon State College is how to teach charisma. I admit when I started teaching this seemed like something a student either had or didn’t. It’s not too hard to teach a met how to walk and talk on camera, and with enough practice most of them smooth out pretty well. Charisma is a bit harder to grasp. It’s not a concrete thing, and therefore much more difficult to shape for each student. I’m still figuring it out myself. In order to help new broadcast mets have the best chance for success, they need to figure out not only how to inform the viewer, but to engage them as well. Continue reading

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    Plant Your Flag – Professional Websites for Broadcast Meteorologists

    Back when I was fresh out of college in 1996, all demo tapes were literally on tape. VHS tape didn’t yield very good quality, but in the age before burn-able DVDs and the internet, it was all we had. Everything was carefully labeled and put in a padded envelope, with the hopes that soon it would arrive on a news directors desk.

    vhs-tapesWhen I landed a job at WCAX, I found boxes and boxes of VHS tapes from job openings past and present. In fact, I found three tapes of my own. Nice to know they made it there. I’m still at WCAX but fifteen years later, technology has changed, and the way broadcast meteorologists apply for jobs has changed and continues to evolve.

    Emails, online links and video hosting are now the standard. You have no idea how much you are saving on overnight postage these days. News directors will usually ask for links to video, hosted on the internet. Content is exchanged in seconds, and the person doing the hiring can know in a matter of moments whether they feel you are a good fit for their station. The need for a great resume tape hasn’t changed, just the means of distribution is different. Continue reading

  • Shake

    Learning vs. Training – Getting The Skills You Need to Become a Broadcast Meteorologist

    Summer is my time to catch up on reading, and one of my favorite books from the past few months has been The First 20 Hours: How To Learn Anything… Fast! by Josh Kaufman. Josh writes about rapid skill acquisition, and how anyone can become competent at a new skill quickly by giving it focused attention. Like Josh, there is a mountain of things I’d like to do, but never seem to find the time or the energy to get good enough at any of them. Reading this book made me think a lot about how I teach broadcast meteorology at Lyndon State, and how I can help students get better, faster.

    The First 20 HoursOne of the things that Kaufman touches on in the book is the difference between learning and training. With the explosion of information online, learning anything on the internet is getting easier and easier. People are very open to sharing information on the things they love. Learning about chroma-key ad-lib essential in becoming a successful broadcast meteorologist. Every student who has aspirations of doing weather on local television news should have an instructor on campus with some experience in the field. At the very least, a budding broadcaster should be able to get some meaningful performance feedback from a meteorologist through an internship. Continue reading

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    John Hickey – Tips on Covering Your First Outbreak of Severe Weather

    On a July afternoon in 2012, a tornado ripped through the small town of Elmira, New York. WENY meteorologist John Hickey (Lyndon State ’10) had already wrapped up his morning shift, but stuck around to see what the severe weather would bring. He and chief meteorologist Joe Veres (Lyndon State ’99) found themselves in the middle of a severe weather outbreak, something they don’t see very often in western New York. I asked John to take us through that afternoon, and offer some ideas on how to cover severe weather as a new broadcast meteorologist.

    Please explain what happened that day and how you and your weather team handled the storm?

    It was one of those days that you just don’t forget. It was July 26th, 2012. Starting the previous day, the set up was looking ripe, by Northeastern States standards, for some tornadoes. The biggest question was were we going to see enough hazy sun to destabilize the atmosphere for tornado development. I mentioned that in the morning and kept a close eye to the sky. A tornado watch was issued around mid morning so I called the chief to go over a game plan. If we needed to break in for severe t-storms or tornadoes, we agreed that we both needed to be there. I actually ducked out of the office to grab some lunch and a quick work out because I knew it was going to be a long day. As I was getting ready to leave the gym, the severe t-storm warnings were starting to edge pretty close to the viewing area. So it was off to the station. Continue reading

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    Moonlighting for Broadcast Mets – Not As Easy As It Should Be

    It’s no secret that the starting salary for a broadcast meteorologist is pretty low. There are a lot of eager, young candidates out there, all looking for a handful of jobs across small-market America. You need to work in those small stations for at least a little while to get the experience you need to move up to bigger markets and higher paying positions. But starting out is tough. Once you get that first job, not only will you likely have to move to a town you’ve never been to before, you’ll probably be paying off student loans and other expenses too. Working a full-time, and often case part-time job, may not be enough to keep all the bills paid and you might find yourself looking to other ways to pull in some extra cash.

    At least they don't know it's you.

    At least they don’t know it’s you.

    You’ll often find that news directors and station management discourages its on-air talent from working side jobs, especially in the public eye. The station wants to keep the public perception that all its on-air people are well-compensated members of the community, even though it’s not always the case. It might even be written in your contract that other jobs are off-limits. This can make it really hard to make ends meet.

    Continue reading

  • IanOliverLEX

    Ian Oliver – Tips For Getting A Great Start In A New Market

    Getting your first job in local television news can be tough, but moving on to your second job can present its own set of challenges. I’ve had the privilege of knowing meteorologist Ian Oliver since he started out at Lyndon State College. He started working at WCAX in Burlington while still in college, and after a few years was ready to move on to new challenges. This summer, Ian made the jump to weekend meteorologist at WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky. Ian and I still keep in touch, and he was nice enough to answer a couple of questions on making that transition to new station.

    1. Moving from Burlington Vermont to Lexington Kentucky had to have been a big change for you. What was the hardest thing about relocating?

    It was a huge change for me! As a New Englander to the core, the northeast is all I’ve ever known. I went through college and began my professional life in Vermont. After six years, I really grew to love the place and I felt home there. I’m lucky to have many close friends in VT – a reason I’ll surely be making many a trip back up north. Continue reading

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    Tiffany Sunday – What Broadcast Mets Should Know About Contracts

    Tiffany Sunday is an emerging tech and digital media strategist.

    In the thirteen years I’ve worked as a broadcast meteorologist, I have never had to sign a contract. I quickly learned that I was in the vast minority. I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to receive an email from Tiffany Sunday, a digital media strategist. She was the lead speaker and host for the 2012 NWA Social Media Boot Camp and has experience in contract law, IP rights and the intangible value of social media. In the evolving field of broadcast meteorology, experts like Tiffany are now essential in helping steer the course for successful broadcast careers and preparing us for where technology is taking us. I thought I’d ask her a few questions to help clear up a few things for TV meteorologists starting out. She was gracious enough to offer some very valuable information.

    Continue reading

  • nice shirt

    Yes, Appearance is a Big Thing – From College Kid to TV Pro

    Back in August, I gave a presentation at the AMS Broadcasters Conference about how to help entry-level meteorologists make the jump from college to local television. I finished the presentation about two minutes early and had time for one question from the audience. Way in the back, a student raised his hand and asked me, “But looks matter too, right?”

    Yes looks matter, perhaps more than we wish they did, but television (and a lot of online media) are visual. Viewers, as well as News Directors, judge us first on appearance before we ever get a word out of our mouths. It’s something that we need to be aware of and take into consideration as broadcast meteorologists develop in college. If you are going through college and preparing for a career in broadcast meteorology now is the time to take an honest look at your appearance and make a few changes as needed. You might find that a couple of tweaks are all you need to go from college kid to tv pro.

    It starts with awareness. College kids look like college kids because that is who they are, but just like you need to clean up your social media profiles as you prepare to enter the professional world, you need to clean up your appearance as well. You need to be able to take an honest, objective look at yourself and decide where you might need to make changes. That can be really hard for a twenty year old. Unfortunately, that is the business you are getting into and if you want to play the game, you need to learn the rules. Ask a trusted friend or adult for objective advice. Encourage them to be critical. Telling you that you are perfect to pad your feelings will not help you get to where you want to be. Here are the four big areas you should look at.

    Continue reading