Confidence is a big part of learning to be a broadcast meteorologist. Ad-libbing in front of a chroma-key wall for three minutes on live television is not an easy thing to do. Taking many small steps to get yourself there, rather than one giant leap builds a lot more confidence, and increases the likelihood that you’ll continue to develop and grow. The best place to build that confidence is in broadcast classes especially geared for meteorologists.
Just a quick search of YouTube will bring up dozens of campus TV meteorologists who were allowed to go on live television before they were ready. They crashed and burned before they even had a chance to get started. We’ve all had terrible shows we’d never want to relive, but early on its hard to have the confidence in yourself to wake up and do it again the next day.
The best way to learn is to ‘do’, and live college television news is essential. When you are starting out though, the ‘doing’ part should be in a classroom environment with an instructor and the safety of knowing that what you do is not going to end up on YouTube. Classes help build the students confidence so that not only are they ready for live TV, they’ll be ready to bounce back when something goes wrong.
At Lyndon State College where I teach, we are lucky enough to have a separate studio with chroma-key and a WSI weather computer, away from the busy campus television studio. New students are encouraged to make mistakes and to try things out there, gaining the confidence they’ll need for live television. Our broadcast performance classes for meteorologists are separate from the news journalists because they are entirely different skills and should be handled separately. In our first few weeks we spend time moving around the wall, and building ad-lib skills, all within the privacy of our classroom. By November, they are usually ready for their first live broadcasts. No one moves on to live campus television who is not ready to do so.
We watch a lot of broadcasts and go over a lot of theory, but at the end of the day, its the practice in front of the wall that makes students better. Starting each student off right gives them the best chance of success at becoming a broadcast meteorologist, and I believe that each met deserves to have that opportunity.
What does your program help do to help students succeed? Please share your stories in the comments below.