• 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

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    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

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    Get Feedback While You Can Still Do Something With It

    I welcome broadcast meteorologists starting out to send me their on-air work for feedback. I see a lot of good stuff, and plenty more that could use a little help, but that’s what we’re here for. What surprises me the most is when I get demo feedback requests. It’s usually about two or three months after graduation. A met may have left college with what they thought was a top-notch demo, only to be shocked ten weeks later when they have heard nothing back from the jobs they applied for.

    At that point, a met is pretty limited to what they can do. I’m happy to recommend some ideas for a re-edit of their existing content, but any big changes will likely never be able to get fixed. It could be something as minor as a haircut, or the way you continuously move your arm a certain way, but what you leave college with is all you have to find that first job, which is often the hardest to land.

    The whole point of getting feedback is to get better. The time to get that feedback is in your junior and senior years of college when you still have time in front of the campus chroma-key wall or TV station internship. Once you walk off that graduation stage, you’ll quickly find your resources become limited. If you find out a month later that you’re talking too fast, or that you need to buy a suit that fits, there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Had you gotten that feedback a year ago, it becomes a lot easier to make those changes or work on those skills. 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

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    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

  • Get A Job

    Getting Your Weather Demo And Application Package Ready To Go

    With graduation quickly approaching, scores of so-to-be graduate broadcast meteorologists will be sending out demos for local TV jobs. Some students have been working toward this date for many months, refining their resumes and demos, hoping for the best chance of securing that first on-air job. Others have no idea what is needed or even where to start looking. Most entry-level broadcast met jobs will see over sixty applicants for a single vacancy, and over the next four months, you’ll likely see only a few dozen openings. Putting together a great application package could likely mean the difference between spending next fall working on local television or in the plumbing section at Home Depot.

    Over the past few months, proactive students mets have sent me questions at broadcastmet@gmail.com about the job search process. Here are a few of those questions with my best answers in hope of helping out a few more out there.

    1. What type of envelope is the standard for sending out demo DVDs with resumes to television stations?

    It probably doesn’t matter. I think standard padded envelopes are fine. I don’t think you gain anything by sending them overnight or priority either. I’ve seen people do that and it doesn’t really matter much. If you could print out labels for addresses, I think that’s a nice touch. 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