• waiting

    Still Waiting – The Long Battle To Find That First Broadcast Job


    Graduation seems like it was ages ago. You were pretty fired up to get that first job in broadcast meteorology a month and a half ago, but today you are starting to feel a little disheartened about the whole thing. That’s okay, but I’m here to tell you its way too early to throw in the towel.

    Hopefully you know already that there are more broadcast meteorologists out there than jobs available to fill them, so the field is pretty competitive. You might have been the best in your graduating class, but there are plenty of other schools putting out good broadcast meteorologists as well. In addition, you might be up against more seasoned mets who have been working for a year or two who are looking to make a lateral move, or bump up from part time to full time. So right from the start, you’ve got a lot of qualified people all applying for the same jobs you are. That doesn’t mean you won’t find your spot. You just need to keep working at it, and planning for the long run.

    Here are a couple of things to consider if you are still looking for that first job in broadcast meteorology:

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  • All the tweeting keeps me up at night

    Twitterholics – How Twitter Keeps Meteorologists Broadcasting Around The Clock

    I’m in the grocery store with my family on a Saturday afternoon. My wife is asking me what I want on the frozen pizza, but I’m not listening. Instead I’m tapping out a tweet on a severe thunderstorm in the area. I know there is probably someone back at the station on it, and I’m by no means expected to be doing this off the clock, but I’m here in the frozen food isle doing it anyway. I’m hooked on Twitter.

    Twitter has become a great tool for keeping viewers (and followers) updated on weather when your typical 6 and 11pm news is not on the air. Even when the power went out on a Dallas evening newscast this week, meteorologist Larry Mowry fired up the Twitter to update what was going on, and to get the weather information out. During severe weather this spring James Spann, the most followed local met on Twitter at over 29,000 followers, became a information hub for broadcasting storm warnings, and receiving damage reports. Twitter is also just as good for getting information as it is to send it out.

    The thing that makes Twitter work is that its always on, and that can be both a good and a bad thing for busy broadcast meteorologists. I still have broadcasts that need to get ready for with viewers exponentially higher than my current list of followers (I have about 715). There are also other things I ought be be doing when I’m not at work, but still mashing away on my mobile phone. The fact that Twitter is always live makes it almost feel like its the never-ending newscast. As weather information comes in, I want to make sure it gets out there as quickly as possible.

    As I’ve talked about before, future broadcast meteorologists can grab a hold of this technology today. Anyone can start a Twitter account and begin talking about the weather. Its something I recommend to my students. It should be something that you want to do though, not something you feel obligated to. Many Twitter users will tweet like crazy in the first week, only to fry out to zero after that. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and if we want to us social media to keep people informed, we need to pace ourselves.

    I know there are days when I know I should just let it be. I don’t need to be on all the time. Fortunately, I work in a market with an abundance of great weather tweeters. I encourage you to check out Kerrin Jeromin, Steven Glazier, Tom Messner and Ian Oliver.

  • The adventures of Weather Man and his sidekick Barometer Boy

    What’s Your Super Power?

    Everybody has something that we’re good at. Sometimes its something you are born with, but usually its something you develop on your own. Many times, what you are good at comes out of necessity, while other times you are just following something you obsessively love. Finding what you are good at can help you be a lot more successful and happy in your career. This is your super power.

    When I was in high school, I grew to a freakish 6 foot, 7 inches tall. I could have been another foot taller and I still wouldn’t been a good basketball player. Either I didn’t have the physical coordination for it, or I didn’t love the game enough to develop the skills I needed to be competitive. But I liked working with computers, and that ended up helping so much more in the career I’ve chosen to be in.

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  • Getting ready for launch

    A Perfect Day For a Campus Visit

    One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet new students. We had a group of sixteen high school seniors visit Lyndon State College today, interested in atmospheric science as a major. They couldn’t have had a nicer day. Dr. Nolan Atkins from the Atmospheric Science department gave the students a tour of the meteorology facilities, which concluded with the launch of a weather balloon on the observation deck. After that, I brought the group over to News7 for a tour of our campus studio and a crash course in broadcast meteorology.

    They were a great group and I’m glad I had the chance to be on campus and meet them today. I’m not sure how many of them were interested in the Broadcast Meteorology track, but we also offer National Weather Service, Private Sector, and Graduate School tracks. It might be fair to say that most students don’t exactly what they want to do early on, so selecting a school with some flexibility is important.

    Picking a college is one of the most important decisions someone makes, so it was nice to talk with them and let them see what Lyndon has to offer. There are a lot of other factors that go into picking the right college too. Students need to weigh the cost, location, and the surrounding area in order to make sure they have the right school for them.

    On the observation deck at Lyndon State College

    When I was looking for a college, it was all about fit. It’s a feeling you get when being on the campus just seems right. It’s a feeling that tells you that this is where you would like to be. There is a lot of other criteria that also plays into the big decision, but usually the ‘fit’ and the facts coincide pretty well.

    Our next open house for prospective students is July 29.

  • Everybody Run! Here Comes Jim Cantore

    Here’s a great clip from the Weather Channel featuring everyone’s favorite storm tracker, Jim Cantore. The Weather Channel did a nice job putting this promo together. Thanks to @weather_Jake for tweeting the clip.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would run from Jim Cantore. You really have to have a passion for what you do to spend the amount of time on the road as he does. He’s been with the Weather Channel since the very start, and hurricane coverage wouldn’t be the same without him.

    I actually get to work with Jim once a year at Lyndon State College, and you really couldn’t find a nicer guy. Jim is an alum of Lyndon State and comes up to campus each November for a weekend workshop with the broadcast meteorology seniors. Its great to get feedback from meteorologists who have been out there and seen it all, and Jim is clearly one of the best. I’ve seen him do great things will students first hand, and I appreciate the time he puts into the program.

    So hopefully the hurricane season will be kind to Jim. I’ve personally learned a lot about broadcasting from him and I look forward to his next visit up to Lyndon in November.

  • the marathon

    Practice – Why You Can’t Cram to be a Broadcast Meteorologist

    Becoming an effective broadcast meteorologist is like training to run a marathon. If you rolled out of bed one day and tried to run 26.2 miles, you probably wouldn’t make it too far. Its the same way with broadcast meteorology. It takes practice. If you want to become a good broadcast met with a great resume tape, you need to be able to work at it.

    You’ll probably be pretty terrible at first, and that’s okay. What is important is that you pick the right college program to put yourself in a position to succeed. Know exactly what the broadcasting program offers meteorologists ahead of time, so that you don’t get two years into a four year program that is not going to help get you there. Don’t go to a school to learn how to swim if they don’t have a pool (I felt like Dr. Phil right there).

    Here are a few things you should look for in a good broadcast meteorology program:

    Live, daily newscasts – You should be part of a news team that does live broadcasts everyday. You’ll want to have anchors to chat with, and photojournalists to take you outside when the weather gets bad. It has to be every day because you want to get in as many shows as possible, and you’ll likely have to spread it out among the other mets. And you’ll want the shows to be live because there is a big psychological difference between live and taped TV. You don’t want to have to work through those nerves at your first real job.

    Broadcast classes for meteorologists – Colleges offer classes for public speaking, and classes for journalism, but what mets really need is a performance class with other mets. Classes ought to be taught by someone who has some previous broadcast weather experience, and gives you the opportunity to get in front of the chroma-key wall every week. In the classroom environment, you get to make those early mistakes away from live television with a instructor who can help you get better.

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  • Noodles

    Ready for Ramen? The Starting Salary of a Broadcast Meteorologist

    It looks like such a glamorous career with the bright studio lights and television cameras, broadcasting live to homes every morning and evening. Many students are drawn to the profession because they think they’ll find fame and fortune. Well you might get some fame, but the fortune part is a little bit harder.

    Your starting salary as a broadcast meteorologist will likely be between $19,000 and $24,000. I’ve seem some mets start out with more, and others offered even less, but in my best guess, this is what you should plan on for the first two years out of college.

    It all revolves around the perception of local news. The public, in general, is under the impression that we make more, which makes more students coming out of high school want to join the field. After graduation you’ll find that there are likely more mets than jobs to place them all, which creates a glut of talent at the bottom. With dozens of eager mets all competing for the same open spot, News Directors have the power to offer very little for the position. If you won’t work for $20,000, there are a bunch of others that will. Its not like small market stations are making that much money to begin with anyway.

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  • The Curse of Knowledge – Don’t Forget Your Audience

    Our friends over at the National Weather Service in Burlington sent us over a weather clip earlier this week and “Triple-Dog-Dared” us to try and re-create it on the air. Check out the video from Valparasio University:

     

     

    Now clearly its a goof, and the met actually does a really nice job pulling it off. Occasionally I see rookie broadcast meteorologists starting to talk like a NWS discussion on-air, oddly similar to the clip. Its likely a force of habit, spending afternoon in the campus meteorology office preparing the daily forecast, but when you step in front of the chroma-key wall, your vocabulary needs to change a little.

     

    In the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other’s Die, Chip and Dan Heath call it the ‘Curse of Knowledge’. Its when we know more than our audience, and end up losing them in the way we deliver our message. In the beginning we tend to forget who we’re talking to, and that the choice of our vocabulary needs to be relative to the people who are watching us. Its not about talking down to your viewers, but rather explaining complicated concepts in an easy-to-understand manner.

     

    Its important to know your audience, and every market is different. In severe weather markets, where lives are on the line during tornado outbreaks, a higher level of meteorological detail is certainly acceptable and expected. But if I think if you ask the average viewer in the average market, they would have a tough time describing what an occluded front or even the jet stream had to do with the weather. Many news directors outlaw surface maps from weathercasts completely.

     

    So it just takes some gentle reminding and a little conditioning to help new broadcast meteorologists learn a new way to convey their forecasts. The goal is for the viewer to walk away with a clear understanding of your forecast.

     

  • This reading will be lighter than your Dynamics textbook

    Feed Your Brain – Some Reading Suggestions

    Summer is the time of year I look forward to catch up on all of the projects I haven’t had the time to get to all year. Its also the best time of the year to get ahead on my reading. College students are so busy during the school year with classes, its just about impossible to read anything fun, let along for personal development. I always encourage students to pick up a book or two over the Summer, and try something they might not have considered reading otherwise.

    Not only must mets excel in science, but the broadcast meteorologists must also be very good at writing, speaking and creating ideas. There are boatloads of good books out there that can help you along these paths, and might open you up to some new ways to think about things. Here are just a handful of some of my favorites:

    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath – The Heath brothers talk about making ideas sticky, which does a great job of helping organize your weathercasts so that viewers can take away more information.

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  • She had a calculus midterm right before she came to class

    Walk to Run – Why You Need Broadcasting Classes in College to Get Better

    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.